Coach Carangi’s first year as North Penn head coach in the books


Prasham Jobanputra

Coach Carangi took over as the girls basketball head coach and led the team back to the playoffs.

TOWAMENCIN- The girls’ basketball team finished with a 6-16 record last year and missed the playoffs after being the #1 seed in the 2016-17 basketball season for district playoffs. Coach Maggie deMarteleire, a Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame inductee, decided to retire from coaching following the 2017-18 season, and the team began to look for their next head coach. They didn’t have to look far as they chose Coach Jennifer Carangi.

Carangi was a basketball player at Villanova and in 1996, she got her first job coaching. She was a coach at Wissahickon High School for nine years before choosing to focus on her kids after the birth of her youngest daughter, Ava. Carangi walked away from high school coaching but continued to coach AAU, travel, and CYO teams along with her children’s teams. In 2014-15, Carangi came back to high school coaching when Coach deMarteleire was looking for an assistant coach.

Sports in general is a big part of the Carangi household. While Carangi was a former Villanova basketball player, her husband was a football player at Villanova. Her oldest daughter, Sam Carangi, was a star at North Penn, shown by her place on the 1,000-point banner hanging in the high school. Sam followed in her mom’s footsteps and is currently playing basketball at Villanova. Carangi’s son, Rob Carangi, is currently a sophomore at North Penn and is on the varsity basketball team. Ava is not too interested in athletics but shows her support for her family. With Rob on the boys’ basketball team, Carangi believes the girls’ and boys’ basketball teams could become closer.

“The one thing at North Penn I would like to see improve is athletes supporting athletes. I know we have some of that now, and I know it’s tough because with everybody training, it can be difficult. But I think it is unique, in that a lot of the players knew my son before I even came here. So, the fact that they know I’m gonna be there, it’s a great opportunity for us to [become closer]. This year we had some double headers which were awesome. Selfishly I would love to see that continue, maybe even a little bit more so next year, because it would give me the opportunity to see [Rob] play when I do miss a lot of his games because of our league games. I think anything we can do to help promote school spirit and there’s no reason why North Penn shouldn’t be packing the gym for boys’ games, girls’ games, whatever, any sport.  You look at football and you see what happens, I’d love to see that start with the athletes,” Carangi said.

As the new head coach, Carangi did have big shoes to fill. Coach deMarteleire is in the Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame along with joining the 500-win club back in 2016. deMarteleire also led North Penn to their first, and so far, only, District One championship back in 2014. Carangi knew she would have a lot to live up to following deMarteleire’s retirement.

“I think anybody who steps into this position and would say [they don’t feel pressure] would be lying simply because of where Maggie started off with this program and where she brought it to is just remarkable. The one thing I will say though is, because Maggie and I are friends, she was a mentor to me. Even now, earlier today, I stopped in just to say hello to her. Through the season, she’s somebody I can talk to, run things by, and ask questions. So, I feel like in some ways yes, there’s a lot of pressure but having her on my side makes that even easier,” Carangi said.

It would be great to see fellow athletes come out more and support other teams, but something just as great was the overall improvement for the girls’ basketball team this year.  They improved to 10-12 this season and made district playoffs before losing in the first round to Haverford High School.

“Coming into the season, the primary goal for most of the girls was that they wanted to get back to playoffs. We’re very fortunate here at North Penn in that Coach deMarteleire had built a bit of a dynasty and it was just the expectation of getting to playoffs, usually as one of the top four seeds, playing home games during playoffs, getting to states, and then going far into the state tournament. So, last year was tough, particularly for the girls who were on the team the year before when we had gotten to the quarterfinals of states. After the season ended, we met for the first time and they really focused on getting back into playoffs. I am so proud of them for the work that they have put in because the team didn’t change all that much and we had a ton of inexperience with players playing minutes that they didn’t play last year. I think the great thing was that we got to see their maturity through the year,” Carangi said.

Prasham Jobanputra
Coach Carangi talks to her team during a timeout of a pregame scrimmage against Cardinal O’Hara High School.

The players improved a lot throughout the season and Carangi wants to continue to help them improve along with improve herself as a coach.

“I feel like I am very, very intense. I was intense as a player and I’m intense as a coach. As I’ve gotten older, I think I’ve gotten better in taking a step back, taking a deep breath, really trying to focus on the positive things. As a coach I think the default is, what can we do better, not just for our players, but for ourselves. No one takes a loss harder than a coach because that whole night you’re just running through your mind, what could have I done differently, what could we have changed, could we have done a different defense. So, that’s something I’ve worked on from the time I was a young coach, is trying to maybe not be as intense, just try and let the girls see that other human side cause I think that’s important,” Carangi said.

The girls on the team have seen that human side and enjoyed this season with their new head coach.

“There’s just a quality about her that makes you feel like you want to improve. The constructive criticism that she gives builds you up and just makes you want to be better and makes you want to be better for yourself, and your coaches, and your team, but mostly she makes you want to hold yourself to a higher standard,” junior Katie Early said.

The girls will be hunting for a bigger fish compared to just making playoffs as they are already looking ahead to next year.

“Next year we’re gonna look at the league championship. I think we definitely can contend for the continental conference. I think we wanna repeat and get back to district playoffs and then next year take it one step further and get into states and hopefully make a run,” Carangi said.

And that potential league championship run will be under Coach Carangi who sees a long future with her standing near the bench, drawing up plays, encouraging her players, and most of all, making herself and the girls better players and better people.

“I do [see a future as head coach]. I [coach] because I love it. I really like coaching, I like basketball, I like working with kids. For so many years of my life it was a great opportunity for me to spend time with my kids, so I coached my son’s travel team and I coached my daughter’s travel team and that was great, but this was really the first decision I made where I thought only about myself. This was a decision that had nothing really to do with my family. Of course, I got their input and I wanted to know they were okay with it, but it was almost like a selfish decision if you will because it was something I really wanted to do. As long as I’m lucky enough to be here, as long as North Penn will have me, I could definitely see me coaching for years to come,” Carangi said.

With Coach Carangi and the girls’ basketball team looking forward to next year, the future is bright for the program especially with four out of the five starters returning and a senior class with potentially six seniors. Next year will for sure be intriguing to watch.