Like most involved with the Billings Skyview girls basketball program during the 2014-15 season, Robbyn Hergenrider thought the Falcons’ state-tournament drought would be broken.
The Falcons had their best regular season in years and all that stood between them and their first trip to the Class AA state tournament since 2001 was a home playoff victory. But despite a double-digit lead for much of the first half, and a seven-point lead with 49 seconds left in overtime, the Falcons fell in double overtime to Great Falls CMR.
“The girls had the desire and they wanted it,” said Hergenrider, an assistant then for the Falcons. “It was just hard to watch it slip away. It was hard for those girls, it was hard for the coaching staff.”
Three years later, Hergenrider will have a more direct hand in changing the Falcons’ fortunes. Thursday she was chosen head coach, succeeding Jim Wilsey, who stepped down after two seasons.
After the 2014-15 season, Hergenrider took time off from basketball. She said now is the perfect time and place to try her hand at her first head-coaching job, a dream she’s had since before she was in high school.
She assisted for four seasons at Skyview and two years before that was a varsity assistant at Philipsburg. A native of Belfry, Hergenrider is finishing her sixth year as a teacher in Billings.
“I’m comfortable in my teaching career and took the last two years off (from basketball) and just really missed it,” said Hergenrider, who is in her third year of teaching third grade at Arrowhead Elementary. “I saw the opportunity to get back and really wanted to give it a chance.”
Spending four years on the Falcons’ bench has made Hergenrider acutely aware of the program’s ups and downs. Skyview finished 7-13 last season and graduated five seniors.
“I care about the basketball program,” she said. “Volleyball and soccer and softball are so strong (at Skyview) that I want to build that with their basketball program as well. I just want to re-instill a desire in the girls to play. I want those girls to have fun and believe in themselves.
“I know their families believe in them. I believe in them, and I’m excited to have the opportunity.”