KEARNEY, Neb. — Chris Pocock didn’t expect to be running girls basketball practices this winter. 

But after Kearney High head coach J.D. Carson resigned on the first day of practice citing personal reasons, Pocock was thrust into the interim head coach job.

“We were able to formulate our plan and kind of put our practice plan together, but it for sure has been a whirlwind these first two and a half weeks,” Pocock said.

Pocock is no stranger to leading a huddle. He was an assistant girls coach last year, has been an assistant boys basketball coach and an assistant baseball coach. He was the even Bearcats’ head girls basketball coach for seven years in the late 90s, but didn’t think he’d be returning to the role.

“Probably not as a head coach," Pocock said. "I had a good run and priorities change as you grow.”

After the initial shock, the Bearcats players say they’ve settled into a normal routine with their new head coach.

“It was hard for all of us," senior Paige Mailahn said. "I just was like, we can’t change it now so we’ve gotta move on and accept it, try to do our best and come together as a team.”

“Everything’s kind of the same," junior Kelsey Hatcher said. "His style is obviously different than Carson’s, but it’s kind of an easy adjustment.”

The abrupt change hasn’t stopped the players from having some fun at practice.

“Oh yeah, us girls get to him a little bit," Hatcher said. "We all poke fun at Pocock, but he loves us.”

Kearney High will be without its leading returning scorer after senior Kiara Dutenhoffer tore her ACL in the fall.

“I think I’m going to help coach posts this year because I’m a post player," Dutenhoffer said. "So I think I’m going to help out with that a little bit and just keep stats and be the water girl. Fun new little job.”

While she won’t be on the court, she’s confident her seven-member senior class will help the team succeed.

“We all just have this bond that we’ve had for like six years," Dutenhoffer said. "It’s pretty strong and cool.”

Pocock says the team will maintain its fast-paced identity, but he’s worked in some of his own set plays.

“It’s their season," Pocock said. "It’s the players’ season and so we’re just here to guide them through that and be the best we can.”