HELENA — It has been said that point guard in basketball is an extension of the coach.
So it would only make sense that former Carroll College point guard Bailey Pasta ended up being one.
Pasta returned to Helena after accepting the job of lead assistant coach for Carroll’s women’s basketball team. She takes over for longtime coach Gary Turcott, who announced his retirement a few weeks ago.
And it didn’t take her long to get comfortable trading in her purple and gold jersey for a clipboard.
“This is definitely a dream come true,” said Pasta, who just finished coaching at the women’s basketball kid’s summer camp. “I’m at my alma mater, the program that I care about more than anything in this world, and to be able to give back to a program that has given so much to me is just incredible.”
When Turcott announced that he was going to retire from coaching, women’s basketball coach Rachelle Sayers knew she had a decision to make. It was going to be tough, but she knew what she wanted.
“I desperately wanted to get a female on the staff for one, but also wanted someone a little more full time,” Sayers said. “I want them to go out on the road and recruit, that would be available to work out players, and to be in the office to handle some of the administrative things.”
So it didn’t take long for her to come up with a viable candidate. In fact, Pasta was her first call, and she was hired soon after.
“She wants to be a coach. She wants to be in the grind,” Sayers said of Pasta. “She wants to be a part of all of it.”
After graduating from Carroll with a bachellor’s degree, Pasta never hesitated to follow in her parents' footsteps.
She was accepted into the graduate psychology program at Gonzaga University and was offered a graduate assistant coaching position on the women’s basketball team.
It makes sense, as both of her parents are basketball coaches.
“My mom coached me in high school, and I never dreamt of doing anything else. I wanted to get into the family business,” Pasta said. “I love the game. When I teach a skill to a kid and they accomplish it, you see that face of accomplishment. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
During this week’s women’s basketball camp that featured 180 kids, Pasta’s face lit up as she reminisced on helping one of the campers work on the fundamentals.
“We were in stations and I was teaching them how to cut where you don’t actually screen, you just cut straight across. There was this one girl who did it wrong a couple times,” Pasta said. “After walking through it a few times, I hit her with a pass and she made the layup.”
As the girl threw her hands up in the air, Pasta knew she had made a difference. Of course, her former coach knew she was destined for this career a long time ago.
“I’ve known it all along,” Sayers said. “As a player, she understands the game and she is a basketball junkie. She was a lot like me at her age. This is all she wants to do.”
While Pasta is rejoining the women’s basketball team in a new capacity, that doesn’t mean she isn’t still learning from her coach.
Sayers offers words of advice about the transition of going from a player to a coach. Some of the players she played with are still on the team.
“It’s going to be hard,” said Sayers, who went through the same transition while she was at Weber State. “She is going to have to earn their trust and respect all over again, because her role is different. She is the filter between the players and me but, at the same time, it’s a benefit for the players because she has been in their shoes.”
Pasta is just starting her coaching career, but knows she has the resources to get her the ultimate job of being a head coach at the college level.
Just don’t ask her if she is gunning for the Carroll head coaching job.
“Absolutely not,” Pasta said. “No one should ever replace (Sayers). She is the best of the best.”