Staff Photo: Christine Troyke Lori Fisher returned to Dacula High School this season as the new girls varsity basketball coach, but she's been teaching in the Dacula cluster for 14 years.
Lori Fisher has been teaching in the Dacula cluster for the last 14 years and this season was hired as the girls high school varsity basketball coach.
In this installment of "Getting to Know ...", Fisher talks to staff writer Christine Troyke about a variety of topics, including being a mom of three kids and being married for 15 years, her years living in Oklahoma and playing an aggressive style of basketball.
CT: Where did you grow up?
LF: Snellville and Lawrenceville.
CT: What high school did you go to?
LF: I actually went to a private school, Gwinnett Academy. It was in Lawrenceville. It dissolved three or four years after I graduated.
CT: Usually at private schools, especially small private schools, if you're an athlete, you play more than one sport.
LF: Yeah, I played volleyball and basketball and track.
CT: Was basketball always your focus?
LF: Yeah, I did the others because they needed me.
CT: How old were you when you started playing basketball -- and was it your choice?
LF: It was my choice and I started when I was 10 years old. I remember playing at the beginning, but I don't remember why I ever started it. It just happened.
CT: At what point did you add other sports?
LF: I always played softball since I was like 5. We didn't have softball at the school and I quit playing rec ball to focus on basketball. I played volleyball and track because they needed it.
CT: How were your teams?
LF: My senior year, we won the national championship for small Christian schools. There was a tournament up above Chattanooga for small Christian schools and large Christian schools. It's just a bracket style and we won my senior year.
CT: How would that team stack up against the one you coach now?
LF: (laughing) Oh, we would get killed. But for a small school, we were pretty good.
CT: What was your college decision-making process like?
LF: I wanted to play basketball so I went to Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga because they offered a scholarship. So I played there two years and then I walked on at Oral Roberts University and played two years there.
CT: Was it tough to switch schools?
LF: The program at Temple was kind of falling apart and I had a friend who was at Oral Roberts. I went out and met the coach. I walked on and then got a scholarship the next two years. It was hard to go that far away though.
CT: How hard did you have to work to change a walk-on status into a scholarship?
LF: Very hard. Hours and hours. I walked on for the first year, so I practiced that year and that was a good transition.
CT: How were the teams you were on at Oral Roberts?
LF: The two years I was there was when we went from NAIA back to Division I. So we played all the top 25 teams in the nation. Which was really fun, but we got beat a lot.
CT: Are there any games, looking back, that still stand out to you?
LF: When we played the University of Georgia, that was where I always wanted to go to school, but I couldn't out of high school. I had all my family there and I scored nine points. That was a highlight, just because Andy Landers was my idol.CT: There aren't many opportunities for women to play basketball beyond college. So were teaching and coaching the goal when you headed off to college?
LF: Yeah. The WNBA wasn't really big when I was in college. There were some leagues, but I knew that wasn't going to pay my bills.
CT: What's your degree in?
LF: Math education. I teach Algebra II and geometry.
CT: What was your first teaching job?
LF: Jenks High School in Tulsa, Okla. That's where I did my student teaching from Oral Roberts and then I was hired. I coached softball and basketball. I missed my family too much so I moved home.
CT: How big a change is Georgia to Oklahoma?
LF: It's really not much different. There's not as many trees, but the school systems are pretty similar. Jenks was kind of like Brookwood in the day. The years I was there, we won lots of state championships. It's one of the top schools in Oklahoma.
CT: How long had you been there when you decided to come back?
LF: Three years. I came back and I took the first job that was offered. That was at Dacula Middle.
CT: I remember middle school as a really miserable time.
LF: (laughs) It's tough. The kids are really rewarding because they still want to talk to you. But it's tough, definitely.
CT: How long were you there?
LF: I was there for three years and I coached the eighth-grade girls while we were there. We won the eighth-grade big school championship my third year there. That was in '98 I was there and I came here (to Dacula High School) in 2001. I was here until last fall. I was actually displaced back to the middle school because our enrollment dropped. Then I was hired back here this summer for the girls basketball job and to teach math.
It was a very happy day.
CT: How did you meet your husband?
LF: Bill coached track and field at Jenks High School and we met there.
CT: Do you remember what you did on your first date?
LF: We went two-stepping on our first date. We were living in Oklahoma at the time and everyone goes dancing.
CT: Do you have kids?
LF: Three. They are 12, 10 and 8. They go to Dacula Middle and Elementary. We've been in Dacula for 15 years.
CT: Has it changed much?
LF: Oh yeah. There was only Burger King when we first moved here.
CT: Do your kids play basketball?
LF: My daughter, who is 12, and my 10-year-old son do.CT: Did they ask to play?
LF: Yes. My son, not so much, but my daughter, yes.
CT: Have you brought them with you while you were coaching to games?
LF: Yes. They think this is their gym.
CT: Do you guys have a hoop at home?
CT: Are there good competitions?
LF: No. They won't go shoot on it at all. (laughing) It's a waste.
CT: Your team is right in the mix in region standings. This must be an exciting time.
LF: I think the last week or so, we've turned a corner. So I hope we can continue down this road. I start two freshmen and a sophomore, so we're young.
CT: Have there been any games, wins or losses, that have really made a difference for the team?
LF: The Berkmar game was our first big win. That stands out. Everybody just clicked on the floor. Everybody played well together. It was a really exciting, close game.
CT: Do you have any coaching philosophies when it comes to high school girls?
LF: Aggressive. That and hustle beats out talent a lot of times. That's our focus. My point guard has a green light to press, but we're more half-court aggressive.
CT: Did you play like that?
LF: I did. And my daughter plays like that.
CT: You don't get a lot of free time coaching and teaching, but do you have any favorite vacation spots?
LF: Disney World. We're Disney fanatics. And the beach. We're actually trying to sneak down when the season is over.
CT: Are there any places you really missed while you were in Oklahoma?
LF: The lake. But mostly family get-togethers. I have a big family so that was tough missing all that stuff.
CT: Do you have a lot of siblings?
LF: I have two sisters. But my dad has seven brothers and sisters so we have lots of cousins. And my sister has three kids so even us getting together is a big group.