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Rhodes Brings Familiar Name to Nipmuc Sidelines

Having the opportunity to coach varsity basketball just two years out of college is exciting enough, but getting that chance at your alma matter and at a school that has meant a great deal to your family is a dream come true for Missy Rhodes.
"It's amazing," she said. "When this chance opened up, it was obviously tempting being a Nipmuc grad and having family members who coached here. I love Nipmuc so it was a great opportunity."
Rhodes, a Mendon resident, was a three-sport star at Nipmuc, playing soccer, basketball and softball. She followed in the footsteps of her two older sisters, both of whom were also three-sport athletes. Her uncle, Rolf Rhodes, spent 24 years coaching the Nipmuc softball team, essentially "building the program" in the words of former athletic director Bill Leaver. Her father, Reese, coached basketball alongside legendary Nipmuc coach Jim Grant.
With such a strong coaching lineage, the newest Rhodes to enter the coaching ranks has no shortage of places to go for advice. More than anything, she says "be yourself" is the message she has gotten from her family members.
"They pretty much just tell me to stick to my guns, stay positiveand the girls will buy in," she said. Rhodes said her dad and uncle have let her come to them when she is looking for guidance.
"If I want to talk to them about games, I will approach my dad or my uncle," she said. "No one wants to step on toes, but they are always there for advice. It's nice to have that sounding board."
After graduating Nipmuc, Rhodes went on to Becker College in Worcester. At Becker, she played four years of basketball and softball and also played a year of soccer for the Hawks. She began her coaching career last season across the street from where she is now, working with the junior varsity program at Blackstone Valley Tech. The 23-year-old is young, hungry, and eager to add her own piece to the Rhodes legacy.
The rookie head coach earned a win in her very first game at the varsity level, beating Worcester South on the road in Nipmuc's opener. The road since has been bumpy as the Warriors dropped their next seven contests against a gauntlet of a non-league schedule but the tight final scores suggest a team on the verge of breaking through. While Rhodes said she is looking to make the postseason in her first year, she also has her sights set beyond 2016.
"When they brought me in, they waned someone to grow with the program and be in it for the long haul," she said. "Now that I have the job, that's what I plan to do."
And through the growing pains, she says she won't lose sight of how much this opportunity means to someone whose last name has become synonymous with the school itself. 
"Growing up through this program, this is a big deal for me," Rhodes said. "It's a dream of mine."




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