Varsity Q&A: Francis Scott Key girls basketball coach Mitchell Walther settling in during first year

Varsity Q&A: Francis Scott Key girls basketball coach Mitchell Walther settling in during first year

Francis Scott Key fans find the girls basketball program in familiar territory. The defending Carroll County champion Eagles find themselves near the top of the conference standings, making noise with multiple players on track for All-County honors at the end of the season.

What’s different is the man leading the charge as this season. Mitchell Walther has been at the helm this season, enjoying the ups and downs of running his own program.

In order to repeat as county champs, the Eagles will be faced with a schedule that includes a tough South Carroll squad also led by a first-year coach, a rematch with Manchester Valley, who the Eagles beat on Jan.12 and a pivotal rematch with Westminster on Feb 2, where they will look to bounce back from their only county loss of the season. Walther spoke with the Carroll County Times about his experience so far as he prepares for the stretch run.

Editors note: Some questions and answers have been edited for clarity and conciseness.

What have you learned about yourself now that you are a head coach?

Walther: I’ve learned and seen the effect of being clear of how you want things to go and sticking to your own personal guns of how you want certain things to be done. When you stay strong and set those guidelines and parameters about how you want things done, it sets the tone for the image you want to have moving forward.

As an assistant at Liberty, you went from scouting and competing against your entire starting five (Drew Watkins, Summer Brooks, Abby Rieger, Caroline Kohr and Kensi Bancroft) to now coaching and being with them everyday, what is something new you’ve been able to see?

Walther: I always knew the talent that they had. Like, I knew Summer’s shooting ability and about Abby and Drew’s athleticism. I think now being their coach, I can see firsthand the passion the have for the game and for each other.

The girls jell together so well, they finish each other’s sentences sometimes and they are genuinely friends that want each other to do well. It makes you want to show up every day and keep getting after it with this group.

What was the hardest part about transitioning to a new position at a new school?

Walther: Learning new people again and letting them learn me. Coming in, I knew that was the biggest thing I would have to do, and so much work goes into that. So much of what I did at Liberty was built off the relationships, so now I have to build those strong bonds here. It’s been up to me to communicate with everyone and work with everyone to build the culture I want us to have.

Dec. 1, 2023: Francis Scott Key head coach, Mitch Walther provides instructions to his team during a recent practice in Union Bridge. (Doug Kapustin / For Carroll County Times)
In his first season leading the Francis Scott Key girls basketball program, Mitchell Walther has the Eagles in position to make a run at a second straight county championship. (Doug Kapustin/For Carroll County Times)

How did your time at Liberty working with coach Barry Green prepare you for this next step?

Walther: Coach Green did a great job of mentoring me and preparing me for that next step. We even kind of had conversations of when and how that would look. At Liberty I was involved with the program on every level. I just had a passion for competing and helping everywhere that I could. Getting more involved in every piece of what we had going helped me grow as a coach.

You have the bulk of your schedule coming up and a real shot at that county title. What will it take for FSK to reach the top and accomplish all of the goals you have set for the season?

Walther: We have to keep pushing to get better. One through 12 on the roster, we have to keep pushing as a coaching staff and as players to keep getting better as a unit.

If we stay true to ourselves, keep working every day and just keep keeping focused on getting better and having fun while doing it, the results will speak for themselves.

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