By Nate Thompson
Her grandfather, Jim Goorman, compiled 510 victories and five state championships during a Hall of Fame coaching career with the WMC boys basketball team.
He passed on his passion to his son, Jeremy, who played on one of his dad’s state title teams, and has been either an assistant or head coach at Montague or WMC for most of Aubrey’s life.
Jeremy Goorman is currently the head coach of WMC’s girls varsity squad, and has had the chance to coach his daughter for the past two seasons, while his dad serves as assistant coach.
So three generations of Goormans are working together for a common cause, and the results have been pretty good so far.
“I knew Aubrey was something special (on the basketball court) probably when she was around five,” Jeremy said. “If you showed her something, she picked it up pretty quickly. I’d show her a jab step and she’d utilize it. And she’s always shot pretty well.”
Goorman, a 6-foot center, has really elevated her game during her senior season this winter. She’s helped lead the WMC girls to a 7-1 record while averaging over 19 points and 10 rebounds a game.
The Warriors are on a path to exceed last season’s accomplishments, when they finished 14-11 and won a Class C district championship.
Goorman said her father and grandfather encouraged her in different ways to become the best player she can be throughout the years, while her mom, Kim, has always provided moral support before and after games.
“My dad has almost always been my coach, so I’m used to it,” she said. “It’s nice to have him for encouragement or instruction, but sometimes he may be harder on me than others, or annoyed with me at practice because he has higher expectations. But it’s not too bad. I like it that way.
“My grandpa, he always reminds me about the extra time I need to put in to make myself better,” she added. “He’s always telling me to set goals for myself. Before a game, he’ll come up to me and say, ‘OK, Aubrey, what’s your goal for rebounds tonight?’ I’ve heard a lot of things like that from him over the years.”
Goorman has taken her grandfather’s advice to heart, as far as dedicating herself to the sport. Her effort has been rewarded with an opportunity to play basketball next season at Trinity Christian College, an NAIA school near Chicago.
“Her work ethic is what sets her apart from a lot of girls,” Jeremy said. “She’s put in hours of work on her shooting and ball-handling. On weekends, she’ll come into the gym and get in some shots. That’s a testament to her drive to get better.”
Goorman said she’s improved her mid-range jumper, but she thrives the most operating isolated on the low blocks, where she can utilize her footwork.
“I’d say my favorite move is the up-and-under,” she said. “My dad taught me that move. I’ve been practicing that for a long time.”
Goorman has also excelled more this season at recognizing double teams from opposing defenses and finding open teammates, namely sophomore Meghan Heiss, a transfer from Fruitport Calvary Christian. When teams try to take the ball out of Goorman’s hands, fellow 6-footer Anna Sytsema can also hurt teams down low. She’s averaging a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds.
“It’s definitely a lot different from last year because we have some players who can hit outside shots when I can kick it out,” said Goorman, who’s averaging around three assists per game.
With more weapons around Goorman, the more dangerous the Warriors should be in late February and early March, when the conference championship and district title will be up for grabs.
“Our size and defense can give a lot of teams fits,” Jeremy said. “The girls are starting to buy into mixing up our defenses from time to time, and we can beat most teams on the boards. It’s like Michigan State. If you can win the rebounding battle, more times than not, it means success.”