The Faribault girls basketball program is under new leadership after it was announced Friday, June 4 that Danyelle Fisher was named the new head girls basketball coach for the Falcons.
Fisher is a Minneosta native that graduate from Minnesota State, Mankato in 2010 and returned to school from 2015-17 to obtain her master’s degree in Counselor Education/School Counseling and Guidance Services.
For the past three years, Fisher has been working as a counselor at the International School of the Sacred Heart in Tokyo, where she also coached the school’s high school and middle school girls basketball teams.
The Faribault Daily News sat down (virtually, through email) for a question and answer session with Fisher about her background in basketball, her experience with basketball as a player and a coach, and how she plans to approach leading the Falcons.
FDN: Starting off, what’s your experience with basketball, both as a player and a coach?
Fisher: My experience with basketball is extensive. I started playing at a very young age, and played AAU through middle and high school in the off season (summer, fall, and spring) and played a year of college ball. Once I got to college and after dedicating so much of my life to the sport, I knew I needed a break from it but that I would come back to it someday as a coach. For the past three years, I have been the varsity coach here at International School of the Sacred Heart and I coached middle school for a year (we did not have seasons the past two seasons as the middle school season is in the spring). I also helped run the elementary basketball clinic through the school as well.
FDN: At what point did you realize that coaching was something you wanted to pursue?
Fisher: I knew in high school and college that I would like to be involved in coaching, but I just didn’t know how I might do that with the career that I chose originally. I worked for the MN Department of Corrections for a few years as a Wilderness Therapy Instructor and worked at a small high school that did not offer competitive sports, so there wasn’t an opportunity within those jobs to get involved easily.
Now that I am in a more traditional school setting, sports and extracurriculars became an option again so I jumped at the opportunity to coach when my current AD approached me for the varsity job.
FDN: What first brought you to Japan and the International School of the Sacred Heart?
Fisher: I always wanted to live and work abroad, and it was a good time in my life to go so I jumped at an opportunity after being contacted by ISSH. I was open to going most places, but preferred Asia. I was incredibly lucky to land in Japan for my first overseas post. I would say most people don’t have that luck and sometimes spend years and years trying to get a position in Japan, especially at the top international schools.
FDN: What is the basketball culture like in Japan?
They are definitely not as crazy about basketball here as they are in the states, the Japanese have a love affair with baseball. There is a decent following for men’s basketball, especially with Rui Hachimura’s recent success but women’s ball is pretty non-existent. When you leave America, you realize we really do have such a huge sports culture around so many sports, not just one or a few like many countries. We do play U.S. military base teams, and that is always fun to play in their house because it’s like visiting a typical American gym with cheerleaders, a concession stand, and the loud crowd but in Japan! It’s a strange experience.
FDN: What have been some of the most rewarding experiences from these last three years?
Fisher: Coaching wise — I led our team to their first winning season in nearly a decade, including beating our rival for the first time in recent memory (my seniors had never beat them in high school).
Job wise — meeting so many amazing students and families from all over the world! Getting to travel around Japan and the rest of Asia has been an experience of a lifetime.
FDN: At what point did you realize you wanted to move back to Minnesota, and when did the position at Faribault come across your radar?
Fisher: I was tempted to stay one more year, but the pandemic has been exhausting and I wanted to be closer to family so I knew that it was time to go back in January. The position came across my radar when I was applying to the Middle School Counselor job that was added this year. I saw the Head Coaching job posted and after I was made an official offer for the FMS job, I mentioned it to Joe Sage and he connected me with Keith Badger. The rest is history!
FDN: I can’t imagine the interview process for the job was easy logistically. What was that like?
Fisher: It wasn’t too bad actually! I think everyone has earned a Masters in Zoom this past year and a half. We were able to find times that worked for everyone on the panel and myself and it went smoothly.
FDN: How do you describe yourself as a coach, in terms of both on-court and off-court philosophy?
Fisher: I am a relationships first coach and I coach in a collective sense, not so autocratic. I want my players to think for themselves out on the court and take what they learn out there and exercise that in their personal/academic lives.
FDN: Speaking broadly, what are you hoping to accomplish while leading the Falcons?
Fisher: I’d like to get the numbers of the program up and encourage more athletes to come out and give basketball a try. A focus on fun and remembering that it is a game! There will also be a massive focus on team building, a “we before me” mentality will be an expectation right out of the gate. After building a strong foundation, the rest will take care of itself.