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BY KERRY EGGERS/PORTLAND TRIBUNE/After a nine-year absence, she returns to high school ranks

TRIBUNE PHOTO: KERRY EGGERS - ADELMAN NAROFor Kathy Adelman Naro, it's a new beginning.

But really, a new beginning happened years ago for Naro, named last week as the new girls basketball coach at Beaverton High.

Naro hasn't coached organized ball since 2009, when she resigned from her job as Jesuit High's head girls coach after her second drunken-driving arrest in less than a year.

Today, Naro — years into sobriety — has a new lease on life and the opportunity to resume her prep coaching career.

"I'm totally pumped and excited," says Naro, 46, the daughter of former Trail Blazers coach Rick Adelman. "I've been wanting to get back into coaching for a while. When the Beaverton job opened, my interest perked immediately."

Naro was a star point guard at Tigard High in the late '80s, playing in the Metro League with Beaverton while leading the Tigers to the 1988 Class 3A championship.

"There was something special about Beaverton — the tradition, the community," says, who has made her home in Beaverton for several years. "Whenever we played there, I got the feeling everyone had each other's back."

An assistant coach at Beaverton during those years was Mike Blok, who happens to be the athletic director at the school. He remembers Naro well, both as a player and during her time coaching at Jesuit.

But Blok also knew Naro's personal history, and vetted a few sources before making the hire. Did he have trepidations before reaching his decision?

"Absolutely not," Blok says. "Fifteen minutes after I sat down with Kathy, it was easy to see her heart and her passion for the game and for kids. We made a call to Jesuit as a reference check. All we heard from them was that she's an incredible lady. There's a lot of love for her there.

"We're excited to have Kathy join the Beaverton High family. I'm struck by her humility and her drive to teach skills and life principles. I feel like we have hired one of the best coaches in the state."

Naro came to Jesuit in 1993 after an outstanding four-year playing career at the University of Portland. She began as head softball coach and junior varsity girls basketball coach while teaching English, then became head girls basketball coach a couple of years later. She dropped teaching after having the first of three daughters with her husband, John Naro.

At Jesuit, Naro ran one of the premier programs in the state, reaching the state finals in 2003 and '07. All the while, though, her personal life wasn't in check.

"I went through a very difficult time," she says. "I kept thinking I could fix things on my own. I was stubborn. As I was becoming a mom and coaching, I kept thinking, 'I just have to figure this out and I'll be fine.' It got to the point where I had to ask for some help and reach out to people. It took me awhile."

Before that happened, Naro drew into a shell.

"I was with my family, but I withdrew from my friends, from going out in public," she says. "I was in a place of real shame. I went into a dark place of self-pity. I still thought, 'I can figure this out.' I had to realize how selfish that was.

"You either take what has occurred and make something better of yourself, or you sit in a bad place. It took me a few years. I had to work my way through it. The support of my family, friends and people I've met along the way helped me through that. Through the process, I've learned to just do the best with what I have today. And it's changed my whole life."

Naro gets emotional when talking about the support of her husband, a controller in the accounting department at Vestas Wind Systems.

"John has been amazing," she says, her eyes welling into tears. "He saw me through some very difficult times. So have my kids and my parents. They've stuck by me and supported me through the up and down times. I'm really grateful."

There was one other major factor in Naro's recovery.

"My (Catholic) faith helped me through it," she says. "It was like, 'Do I trust in God all the way? Is there a plan here? Or do I not?' Fortunately, I came to a great place there."

Naro is remorseful for the behavior that cost her the Jesuit job, but also thankful for the results.

"I really regret what I did," she says. "It hurt my life professionally. It hurt my family and friends. But today, I'm wiser. I'm more humble and grateful. I wish it would never have happened, but I feel like it's truly given me a depth I didn't have before. I'm in a great place today and ready to move forward."

For the past five years, she has been putting her toe in the coaching waters with "Clutch," a Beaverton club owned by Jason Fawcett. Naro has volunteered to coach girls travel teams at the grade, middle and high school levels.

"I'm grateful to Jason for giving me the chance," she says. "My girls have played there. He does a great job with the players on and off the floor. I've been blessed to be a part of it. It has kept me in the loop, been a good way for me to slowly get back into coaching."

Naro also is teaching language arts at St. Pius X School in Beaverton and is working to gain her masters degree online.

"Teaching has been my passion since I was in high school," she says. "I loved school. I love English. I love to read and write. It's innate in me."

Naro has some prodigies in her household. Her oldest daughter, Mary Kay — named after her mother — played varsity as a freshman last season at Sunset. Mackenzie is a freshman and Madison is a seventh-grader. The two oldest girls will follow their mom to Beaverton.

"They all love to play basketball," she says. "It's going to be a lot of fun to coach them."

And to coach other girls, too.

"I feel so grateful to have the opportunity to be part again of watching girls blossom," Naro says. "Sports in high school was amazing for me. I want to be a part of creating that for other girls."

Naro has her hands full in developing a winning program at Beaverton, where the girls varsity went 3-20 last season.

"It won't happen overnight," she says. "But I want us to be highly competitive. My plan is to create an environment where people work hard to get better.

"I would love to get to a state championship game. I would love to win a title. That's the goal. But I have learned through my process in life that it's a journey."

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@kerryeggers

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