BOSTON — Coach Fisher is putting together a new basketball team this weekend, looking for a combination that could again take the squad to the finals and make Trudy Fisher the state's first female leader of a championship team.
Fisher says she's mean and uses that to motivate her teams. The towering teen-age boys on her team at Boston Technical High School say the 5-foot-3 coach of champions is a benevolent dictator.
The soft-spoken Fisher is the only woman coaching a major boys high school sport in the state, said Sherman Kinney, associate executive director of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association.
But the gender factor just doesn't matter, Fisher said.
Last March, Fisher took her team to within one point of winning the state Division II championships. They lost 57-56 to Wahconah Regional High School in Dalton.
Of course, she said, had her boys done poorly, she expected criticism of the "What-do-you-expect-from-a-woman" variety. "But what can you say to a winner?"
This week Fisher is holding tryouts for the 12 players she hopes to assemble into this year's dazzling dozen. She'll be looking for basic skills, said the 35-year-old former athlete. "I don't like showoffs."
"My ultimate goal is to develop good solid human beings," she added. "You reinforce the positive things that they have. I try to instill in them 'Do the best you can do.'
"You have to be strict," she said. "I'm mean."
Her players are required to attend classes on time and pass all their courses. "The most important thing to me is when they go to school after they leave here," Fisher said. "That's what makes me happy. Not winning the game."
She bans talking during practice -- "As a result they don't get rattled easily." She calls their homes to make sure they're home at night and encourages them to avoid the distraction of girlfriends.
Fisher also gives plenty of advice, listens to their heartaches when they call her at home and finds tutors when their schoolwork flags.
Dwayne Molyneaux played for Fisher and received two years worth of that quality attention. Now at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia, the 19-year-old's new male coach often asks if his training is tougher than "the lady coach."
Molyneaux always answers with a diplomatic yes. But he said in a telephone interview that Miss Fisher was a different brand of mentor.
"She tried to prepare us for life, she really talked to us about things in basketball and in life," said Molyneaux, who next year goes to Colorado State University in Fort Collins on a basketball scholarship. "Most coaches just want you for basketball and that's it. She was like a mother to us."
Those attributes prompted Boston Tech Headmaster Christopher Lane to name Fisher head basketball coach at his school, one of three city high schools that require competitive entrance exams.
"She's five-star," Lane said of the Boston University graduate he described as shy, reserved and very capable. Fisher's greatest strength is discipline, he said. "She leads by example. Students respect self-discipline."
A native of Henderson, N.C., her family moved to Stamford, Conn., when Miss Fisher was 10. "When we were growing up, you either played sports or you fooled around. I learned a lot of discipline from it."