Six years ago, a simple yet surprising question from his third grade daughter helped a Darnestown man resume his then-20-year coaching career.
Scott Strickler began coaching in 1976 and spent time on the sidelines in Bowie, Annapolis, and Olney before calling it quits to focus on his family, he said. But basketball would find a way to creep back in.
His daughter, Megan, began playing basketball in a kindergarten afterschool program at , Strickler said, and in the second grade she played in a Montgomery County instructional league.
A year later came the question.
“We were in our kitchen and [Megan] came up to me and said, ‘Dad, can you show me the pick and roll?’ and all of a sudden I knew I had to get back into it,” Strickler said.
So the coaching veteran organized a team of 10 girls, comprised of Megan and her close friends, to play in the Montgomery County recreational league and named them the DEStroyers after the elementary school at which they resided, he said.
“When we first put together the team in third grade I sent out an email about suggestions from names, two of the mothers responded,” the DEStroyers coach said. “One of the suggestions was the ‘Darnestown Divas’. The other was ‘Strickler’s Chicks’. At that point I decided I would pick the name.”
Despite not being very good by his own standards, the team went undefeated its first season, Strickler said.
“They certainly didn’t listen and couldn’t run my offense, and we went undefeated,” he said. “Won our first game 24-8, won one game that year 34-1, and games weren’t close with the exception of one.”
The team would not lose a single game until the final game of its second season, but in defeat, Strickler said he was most proud of his team. In the four years that followed, the team lost only one more game despite playing up an age level.
“[Losing] is kind of hard but we learn from our mistakes and it’s not that big of a deal because were a really close team,” Megan Strickler said.
The team stayed together through sixth grade before some minor turnover, and it’s helped form special bonds among the players, Katherine Skiscim said.
Megan Strickler and Skiscim said they are “like sisters” and basketball had helped bring them together. It also allows them to have some fun at their coach’s expense.
“[Megan’s] Dad is like my second Dad in a way and we’re really close,” Skiscim said. “It’s kind of funny because there are certain times where we’ll pick on him and he’ll ask ‘What’s wrong with you guys?’ and he’ll pick on us back.”
With their run coming to an end, both girls said they’re upset they won’t see their close friends as frequently.
Most of the girls will be split up for high school, they said. Most who are currently enrolled at Lakelands Park Middle School will head to and Northwest, but others will head to Bullis, Holy Child, and Good Counsel.
The DEStroyers roster includes: Megan Strickler, Hannah Crook, Brooke Priddy, Casey Kahalas, Kelly Miller, Isabelle Tyshing, Emily Pohl, Isabelle Durkin, Katherine Skiscim, Erica Orem and Brianca Tunson.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the name of the DEStroyers head coach. We regret the error.