UWO alumna gets Appleton West Coaching Job

Cory Sparks, Assistant Sports Editor

Basketball season is something of a routine at Appleton West High School, bringing about the familiar sound of squeaky basketball shoes abruptly stopping on hardwood as someone hits a pull-up jumper or attempts to fake out their opponent.

One key difference this season, however, is the person calling the plays for Appleton West while observing the team from a courtside view.

This past June, recent UW Oshkosh alumna Ally Gwidt was named the head coach of the Appleton West girls basketball team.

“I was surprised, yet excited to hear I got the job. I am appreciative of an organization like Appleton West that looks beyond age and focuses on the dedication and readiness of a coach first and foremost,” Gwidt said.

Gwidt, 21, may be on the younger side when it comes to those taking head coaching duties, but what she lacks in age she makes up for in coaching experience.

Appleton West went 6-4 in the last 10 games of their season, and their final game was a loss to Kimberly, who had the third best conference record (14-4). (Courtesy of Ally Gwidt)

“I started coaching as a junior in high school. I have coached 13 seasons between [Amateur Athletic Union] AAU, club and school ball. I started with a fifth-grade elementary school team in my hometown of Watertown, Wisconsin,” Gwidt said. “I then coached for Winneconne at the seventh-grade and eighth-grade levels and for Wisconsin Blaze from ages 12U to 17U. I found my way into West last year and coached their freshmen team before moving onto this position.”

New to the head coaching job, but not to the sport or program at Appleton West, Gwidt will be coaching a Terrors team that went 14-10 overall last year with an 11-7 record in Fox Valley Association (FVA) conference play.
That conference record was good enough for fourth in the FVA behind Hortonville (17-0), Appleton East (14-3) and Kimberly (13-4) high schools out of a total of 10 teams.

Lack of players in past years has made Gwidt’s varsity team one with a ton of experience against top-level competition in the FVA.

“A large portion of my varsity team has one to three seasons of experience under their belts at the varsity level due to low numbers last season,” Gwidt said. “That early experience in one of the most competitive conferences in Wisconsin will pay off for them this year.”

Gwidt is taking over for former coach Jim Brown who had been the coach at Appleton West since 2016. Last year, Brown led the team to notable wins over Appleton East 56-45, Kaukauna 57-34 and 54-49, and Appleton North 57-38 and 49-42 in a playoff game before falling to Kimberly by a score of 30-61 in the second round of the playoffs.

Gwidt is very decisive in terms of how she wants to impact the Appleton West program as their next head coach. She stated that she will bring culture to the basketball program so that the girls on her team can feel unified.

“My priority is not to make them fall in love with basketball. It is to make them fall in love with belonging to something that requires hard work and selfless dedication,” Gwidt said.

Overall, Gwidt is very determined to impact her players outside of the game of basketball, just as much as she is interested in improving their performance in the sport.

“Basketball is a team sport,” Gwidt said. “There are challenges that can be learned on and off the court. It can teach you things unrelated to the x’s and o’s of the game, and that is why I love it.”