Dennis Black, who was an assistant coach with the Skyline Spartans boys basketball team during the 2017-18 season, is the new head coach of the Mercer Island Islanders girls basketball team.
                                Photo courtesy of Andrea Hegarty

Dennis Black, who was an assistant coach with the Skyline Spartans boys basketball team during the 2017-18 season, is the new head coach of the Mercer Island Islanders girls basketball team. Photo courtesy of Andrea Hegarty

Islanders girls basketball program has a new leader

Dennis Black is the new Mercer Island Islanders girls basketball head coach.

A new face will be leading the Mercer Island Islanders girls basketball program on the sidelines during the 2018-19 season.

Dennis Black, who was an assistant coach with the Skyline Spartans boys basketball program during the 2017-18 campaign, landed the Islanders girls basketball head coaching position in May. Black replaces Gillian d’Hondt, who coached the Islanders for the past three seasons.

Black, who moved to the Seattle area three and a half years ago, coached high school basketball in Oregon for nearly two decades before relocating to the Pacific Northwest. Black coached the boys basketball team at Oregon Episcopal High School for 13 seasons. He led his team to three state tournament appearances and won two Lewis & Clark League championships.

Black is looking forward to being a head coach in the formidable Class 3A KingCo Division.

“When I first moved up here, I knew they (Mercer Island) were one of the top schools. I was at a small school in Oregon (Oregon Episcopal) and I just got to the point in my career where I wanted to try something bigger and more challenging. That is why I applied,” Black said of his initial interest in the open position at Mercer Island.

Black said he knew of Mercer Island’s reputation of being a community that fully supports athletics at every level.

“I know the program will get that great support from not only the families on the team but the community and the student body. Sports are taken very seriously, which is nice,” Black said.

Black, who has four daughters, said he is the kind of coach who motivates his players in a positive manner.

“I want to put my players in position to be successful. One thing that I really strive for is understanding not only the athlete, but the student. If you understand what their needs are, it’s going to help you become a better teacher and a better coach. You have to know their strengths and weaknesses,” Black said. “I want to put them in a position to be successful. They have to have a good time on the court. They’ve got to feel good to want to play for you.”

Black has liked what he’s seen thus far during the Islanders summer basketball workouts from his players. The Islanders have been working out on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

“Our summer has been going really well. We’ve had a good turnout (close to 20 players), which is really nice,” he said.

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