One former Plant City resident's love of basketball has taken him deep into the heart of Texas.
Patrick Sluga may be the current head varsity girls basketball coach for Colmesneil High School, but his first coaching job was back home.
“I've always loved basketball,” said Sluga, who started as a coach for the Plant City recreation league. “We were always playing at the parks and wherever we could find a game.”
He has taught at Colmesneil High School for a year while serving as the girls' athletic program coordinator, the girls' and boys' cross-country coach, and the girls' volleyball and basketball coach.
Basketball is where he has had the most success, leading the team to a 20-win season.
That's the most for the team in a single season since the 1990s, and it was enough for them to earn their first trip to the playoffs since 2006.
“We have some really good girls and they're really talented too,” he said, explaining that this was a rebuilding season for the team. “Last year, before I was here, they won maybe five games.”
According to Sluga, his approach was to concentrate on specific aspects of the game instead of trying to cover everything at once.
“My thing was that we focused on three or four aspects that we felt that we weren't really strong in,” he said.
And the technique paid off — they not only won the Apple Springs Invitational Tournament but also were runners-up in the R.B. Moffett Varsity Basketball Tournament. By the end of the year, they were ranked fourth in the Woodville Tournament Gold Bracket and placed 11th in the Texas Girls Coaches Association 1A-Division 1 State Poll.
Sluga holds a master's degree in athletic coaching from West Virginia University and a master's in educational leadership from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.
He currently resides in Colmesneil with his wife Melissa and their three children: Bryson, 10; Carlen, 3; and Dalton, who was born in April.