When Ashley High School first opened in 2001, Coach Adrienne Gale walked through the doors and made it her workday home for the past two decades. Barely out of school herself, Coach Gale was hired at the age of 25 by Principal Brady and Coach Wheeler, the first principal and athletic director for the Screaming Eagles. She built the program from scratch and still remembers her first win as head coach. The victory occurred on the Screaming Eagles home court against South Brunswick High School. Though Coach Gale admits she had to look up the exact score (41-23), she remembers that game as vividly as her 300th win, also on her home court, this year.
Coaching women’s basketball is not Gale’s only role. She is also a health and PE teacher at Ashley, which allows her to combine her passion for teaching with her love of coaching. She recalls being brought up in a coaching family, spending her younger years in gyms and on football fields. Teaching the fundamentals and skills that help her students excel both on and off the courts drives Coach Gale. She has spent almost half of her life as a Screaming Eagle, nurturing each athlete’s skills and giving her all. She builds a family and home for them as a team, creating an experience that allows students to show up as girls and walk away as young women united in shared wins, losses, and memories. The bond and respect for her players do not end once the student-athletes graduate. Coach Gale is quick to tell you, “Once an Eagle, always an Eagle.” And after twenty years and 300+ Eagle wins, no one knows that better than her.
One would think hitting your 300th win and watching one of your players pass 2,000 points would be enough for Coach Gale and the Screaming Eagles women’s basketball team. The team is still pushing forward to achieve another goal this season, despite the challenges of the pandemic. After losing last year in the fourth round of the 4A playoffs, the Eagles are looking to capture a state championship this year. With her current team and top recruit, senior Saniya Rivers, that state championship is within grasp.
In her second season with the Screaming Eagles, Rivers is averaging 40 points per game. Coach Gale calls it a fantastic experience and joy to coach Saniya and is quick to identify her as the best female basketball player to come through the region. According to Gale, coaching a player of Saniya’s caliber has changed the entire program as the gracious and humble athlete makes everyone around her better.
“It has been an honor and an incredible experience to be able to start a program from scratch,” says Coach Gale. What’s next? “Winning a state championship this year,” she says.