Boyertown’s Kelly Furman leads as though she’s been there before

HERSHEY >> There are very few who understand the current crop of Boyertown High School girls basketball players quite like Kelly Furman.

She’s been in their shoes. She’s walked down the same school hallways. She’s sported the black and red jersey.

Yet even Furman herself hasn’t been where this team is now.

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A 2011 graduate and three-sport athlete for Boyertown, Furman currently serves as an assistant coach to the girls basketball team who won its first PIAA championship in program history Friday night’s 6A final with a 46-35 win over North Allegheny.

“It’s incredible,” said Furman prior to the game at the Giant Center in Hershey. “I tell them all the time: I wish I was them, because I’d definitely rather be playing than coaching in this situation.”

Boyertown assistant coaches, from right, Kelly Furman, Troy Sweisfort and Jackie Miller cheer on the Bears during the state championship game Friday at Giant Center in Hershey. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Furman was part of the Lady Bears’ deepest postseason run prior to this season — Boyertown eventually falling to Archbishop Carroll in the semifinal round of the 2011 PIAA-AAAA playoffs that year. Furman averaged a shade over eight points per game that season and knocked down 43 3-pointers. She scored in double-digits 11 times for the season while then-sophomore Kaitlyn Eisenhard (now at Mount St. Mary’s) was just starting to establish herself as the team’s leading scorer.

“This team reminds me a lot of my team,” she said. “The togetherness, the never-give-up mentality. They’re so coachable and so much fun to be around. It’s been such a great ride.”

Alongside Furman, head coach Jason Bieber’s staff also included Troy Sweisfort, Jackie Miller and Alex Plate.

Furman is no stranger to this crop of players, namely the upperclassmen.

Prior to her senior season, she spent her sophomore and junior summers coaching young girls at basketball camps in Boyertown. Little did she know what she and Bieber had been building from the ground up in those days.

Boyertown poses for a championship photo after defeating North Allegheny in the PIAA Class 6A girls’ basketball championship game at the Giant Center in Hershey, PA on Friday, March 24, 2017. (Mark Palczewski | Special to PA Prep Live)

“They were in third and fourth grade,” she recalled of this year’s players, “so seeing them grow up and for them to be able to play on this stage is incredible.”

Following her time with the Bears, Furman went on to play women’s lacrosse and study at La Salle University. Four years later, she earned a chemistry degree.

Far from a coaching degree, nonetheless, Furman has been the bond that’s held together the Bears all season.

The solution? Historic.

She’s the calm, soothing voice on the Boyertown bench amid the storm. She’s the one who will put her arm around a player after she picks up a mistimed foul. And she’s clearly the one who can relate to each player on such a level that only few can.

“All I want is to spread the joy and memories that I had when I was in high school,” she said. “This team has already achieved so much together. It’s been awesome to not only see them going through this journey — but to know that I’ve been a part of it.”

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