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Baranek: Tracy bringing a new attitude to Bremen girls basketball

Bremen coach Julie Tracy

Bremen coach Julie Tracy

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Updated: January 10, 2014 6:17AM



“Coach, look. I’ve got a new one.”

It’s a phrase that new Bremen girls basketball coach Julie Tracy says she hears practically every day at practice.

The bumps and bruises bring a smile to her face every time.

“They are proud to show me their knees,” Tracy said, laughing. “There is one girl on my team who will run through a brick wall for a loose ball.

“My point guard, Erin Schaffrath, her knees are purple. They all play very hard.”

They’re being rewarded for it.

The Braves entered play this week at 4-4. That might not seem like something to shout about, but when you consider that in the past three seasons the most games that Bremen has won is seven, this is definitely progress.

Tracy is trying to bring a new feeling to girls basketball at Bremen.

It might hurt, but it’s a hurt that feels pretty good.

If the program had an official motto it would go something like this: You might outscore us, but you won’t outwork us. You certainly won’t intimidate us.

Julie Tracy was a gifted player during her time at Oak Lawn from 2003-07. She put up all-area numbers her junior and senior seasons. But what made her reputation as one of the area’s most notable players was that she was tough.

Nobody on those teams had more bruises. Nobody had more floor burns.

And trust me, nobody had more heart.

Tracy herself ran into a wall once, while trying to catch a pass from a teammate. She suffered a broken wrist during her senior season, but was able to return for the final week of the regular season and helped lead the Spartans to a regional title.

She was a gamer, and an apple that didn’t fall far from the tree.

Her brother Jim is an assitant girls coach at Richards.

Her dad is former Reavis boys coach, and in many eyes an area legend, Jim Tracy.

The elder Tracy was a no-nonsense guy who expected his players to give 110 percent every second on the floor. They ran a structured, disciplined offense, and frustrated a lot of more physically blessed opponents because they never let them dictate the pace of the game.

His kids never disrespected the opponents or the officials, but they also never let themselves get pushed around.

This is what Julie Tracy grew up watching.

“I grew up at Reavis,” she said. “My Friday nights were spent in the gym. It’s always been basketball. For some people, they kind of stray away from things that they’ve been kind of pushed to, but for me it was something I always loved to do.

“As I grew up I realized more and more how much passion I had for (coaching). My dad has absolutely been my role model and my mentor, and my mom (Carol) has always been supportive of me and my dad.”

Tracy’s path to coaching took her to Moraine Valley, where she played for two years while earning an associate’s degree. She then transferred to Eastern Illinois University, where she gained a teaching degree for physical education and health.

Tracy has been a student-teacher at Argo, and for the past two years she has been a para-professional in the special education department at Bremen. Last season she was the varsity girls assistant to Mike Bednarz, and when Bednarz resigned she was promoted to the top spot.

She and new assistant, former Oak Forest star Jen Swanson, have one mission.

“We are really pushing with these girls that if you work a little bit harder, run that extra sprint a little bit quicker, it’s going to pay off,” Tracy said. “There are really good kids here. They want to be here. They want to get better.

“Coach Swanson and I are working them in practice. Every time they’re doing layups she’s at one basket and I’m at the other, and we hack ’em every time they go up. They’re getting bruised, and they’re getting battered. But they’re getting better.”



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