Bickmore to head Bruins
Jeff Bickmore won’t have to waste much time introducing himself as the new head coach of the Bear River High School girls basketball program.
That’s because Bickmore has been a familiar face not only to the returning members of the Bruin varsity team, but also around western Nevada County basketball scene, for several years.
Bear River athletic director Jack McCrory has announced that the 35-year-old Bickmore, an assistant to former Bruin head coach Duwaine Ganskie the past two seasons, has accepted the helm of the tradition-rich Bruin program.
“It was a no-brainer,” McCrory said. “The bottom line is we got real lucky to get him. He was a natural successor for Ganskie. He understands what’s been going on and the girls are already comfortable with him.
“We didn’t want Ganskie to leave, but Bickmore is a great coach for us to have found.”
Ganskie, who produced a 428-99 record in 16 seasons, along with 11 league championships, eight section titles and three NorCal state crowns, accepted the head coaching position of the Nevada Union girls program last week. Bickmore said his former boss is quite an act to follow.
“It is daunting, a little bit, following in his footsteps,” said Bickmore, who has also accepted physical education teaching position at Park Avenue Alternative Site in Grass Valley. “I try to look at as a positive, though. I’m walking into a program that is already well-established. I’m walking into a program that has a winning tradition, so I don’t have to build up the program to get to that point.
“He’s the best coach I’ve been around at any level. He’s unbelievable, not only as a coach, but as a person. Obviously, I learned a lot from him. But I’ve got to be myself. There will be some things we do the same, but also some things that we’ll do differently.”
The job is the first head coaching position for Bickmore, but he’s no stranger to stalking hardwood sidelines.
Six years prior to joining Ganskie on the Bruin bench, Bickmore was the Bear River freshmen boys head coach in 1996. He was also an assistant under to Nevada Union head coach Jeff Dellis for one season.
After playing high school ball at Southern California Christian in Anaheim, Bickmore pulled down many a rebound as a power forward for four years at Southern California College. Once his college career came to end, though, Bickmore couldn’t close the door on his playing career.
Instead, he hired an agent and found a roster spot with a professional team in Australia. Though he only planned on playing one season for a team outside Melbourne, he returned for another and then three more with a ball club in Adelaide, a southern Australian city.
“I still wanted the opportunity to play basketball,” he said. “It was something I planned to do for fun after getting out of college, but I ended up staying a lot longer.”
At least one Bruin fan hopes Bickmore stays as skipper of the south county school for a long time, as well.
“I’m excited,” Ganskie said. “He was my No. 1 recommendation. I’m absolutely thrilled he got (the position), both for him and the players.
“I can sleep now, knowing the program is in good hands. I’m just really excited for the kids with Jeff in charge of the program.”
Bickmore said the Bruins won’t be facing Ganskie’s Miners in the near future, as both coaches get comfortable in their new positions.
“Duwaine is a fan of these kids,” Bickmore said. “He roots for these kids. He’ll be the first one to pick up a newspaper in the morning to see how many points (Bruin senior) Karli Kephart scored the night before.
“That would be really difficult, especially in the first or second year. It would be difficult for him to play against us and it would be strange for me, too, because we are really good friends.”
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