Clarkston – Ann Lowney’s coaching career began nearly 30 years ago while she was still playing point guard at Oakland University.
Lowney was head girls basketball coach at Waterford Lakes in the late 1980s, leading the program to a Catholic League title while finishing up her All-American career with Oakland, where she still holds the career record for assists.
After a successful career as head girls basketball coach at Waterford Lakes (1989-90), Birmingham Seaholm (1995-96) and Clarkston (1997-2004) – 168-75 combined record – the 51-year-old Lowney is coaching the boys team at Clarkston Everest Collegiate. Among her players is one of her triplets, senior guard Mitchell Lowney.
She also coached the boys team from the 2009-10 season until the 2012-13 season, guiding Clarkston Everest to a 59-30 record and to consecutive Catholic League Intersectional and district championships her final two years.
Lowney remained athletic director while giving up her coaching duties so she could watch her son and two daughters – Serra and Grace – compete in junior high and high school sports.
“I’ve been blessed, I have really good kids,” said Lowney of her 18-year-old triplets. “I’m having a lot of fun coaching Mitch. He’s a great kid.”
Lowney says there are differences in coaching boys.
“I think the boys like to probably scrimmage more and the girls you tend to do drills more,” she said. “I don’t know why that is, but I probably do more teaching through scrimmages with the boys than I did with the girls. It’s so much fun coaching boys since their athleticism is amazing.”
Clarkston Everest, which competes in Division 4, has 122 students, 52 boys, including 20 who played varsity football, winning the Prep Bowl against Riverview Gabriel Richard at Ford Field. This year’s graduating class is 27, including 16 boys.
“I loved Clarkston, but it was such a big school,” said Lowney, who was a grad assistant coach at Auburn while former Michigan State coach and current Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie was an assistant back in 1991. “This is a great community here, so supportive. You get to know the kids, get to know the families. It’s like a family here.
“I coached the boys for probably four or five years, gave it up when my kids started seventh or eighth grade and now they’re seniors and I’m back doing it. I’ve been here 14 years now, just love it. These boys here, I coached a lot of them in fifth and sixth grade because I’ve always coached Mitchell.”
Lowney was busy at work before practice recently, working on her team’s shooting after Clarkston Everest struggled in three straight losses, where it scored 36 or fewer points. Everest is 5-8 heading into Friday night’s game at Allen Park Cabrini.
“I’m really big at breaking down film, spent literally two hours today just watching the first eight minutes of the game,” Lowney said. “I ran it in slow motion just seeing where the ball was hitting off the backboard because they’re not getting it up off the backboard and it has to be up near the top of the line to have a chance to go in.
“I just try to use film because these kids nowadays are visual with everything. It’s a way different day than when I started out.”
Despite Everest’s struggles offensively, Lowney feels good about the team’s defense.
“We’re only allowing an average of 45 points,” noted Lowney. “Riverview Gabriel Richard, which is first place in our league, only beat us 40-36.”
Lowney has friends and resources to help correct problems, such as legendary former Clarkston boys coach Dan Fife.
After all, it was Fife who hired Lowney as Clarkston’s girls basketball coach more than 20 years ago.
“Dan came to one of our practices and went over our motion offense and gave pointers to what they did with it when he was coach at Clarkston,” Lowney said. “He talked about what it takes to compete at a high level. I’ve been telling the kids the same thing, but it carries a little more weight when it comes from Dan – he’s a legend around town.
“When I was pregnant with the triplets he was supposed to take my team, coach the girls, but the school board said no because he was the athletic director too. I would have loved to see him coach girls. It would have been fun.”
Lowney is looking forward to watching 6-foot-5 sophomore Michael McGrath develop. McGrath, one of eight children, is averaging team-highs in points (12.3) and rebounds (9.6).
“He has potential, can play both inside and out for us,” said Lowney of McGrath, whose older brother, Jack, also plays on the team. “We want him to shoot more from the outside because he has a good shot.”
Senior guard Trevor Myers is averaging 8.2 points. He said it’s a different experience to play for a female coach.
“She’s a screamer too, so in the locker room she’s always yelling, screaming, and giving the best effort she can for the team, and I love that intensity,” said Myers. “I know she played in college so her experience is not only shown by her coaching, but through her playing, as well.
“I definitely think it’s different (playing for a woman) because you have to make sure that everything you do has to be orderly, proper. She demands the perfect practice with 100-percent effort all the time.
“In the locker room it’s definitely more focused because she demands that respect in that locker room. It’s different than having a guy because, I don’t want to say it’s more awkward, but it’s more tense because with a guy you can be more relaxed and joking. With a woman you have to always be careful about what you’re saying. You always have to stay focused.”
Lowney was named fourth-team All-American in college, helping Oakland to consecutive GLIAC titles her junior and senior year, reaching the Division II Final Four in 1990.
Mitchell Lowney has enjoyed playing for his mother. He is an all-state golfer who plans to study golf management at Trine University.
“My mom’s coached me for a long time,” Mitchell said. “She treats everybody like her son, which is good. It’s just fun to have her around all the time. She gets on us a lot, but that’s just because she cares about us. She knows so much about the game.”
Fife was impressed watching Lowney work at practice.
“She’s intense, she understands basketball, played college basketball,” said Fife of Lowney. “She knows what she’s doing. She’s good. She’s doing everything I’d be doing out there.”