February 10, 2024

By Fred Liggett

The 47th Annual McDonald’s All-American Games is set for Tuesday, Apr. 2 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.

There is a local flavor to this national event thanks to the West team being coached by Blue Valley North High School girls head basketball coach Ann Fritz. Giving the event even more Kansas City flavor is Fritz coaching staff that will be joining her for this experience. Fritz current girls assistant Mike Hilbert and Blue Springs girls head basketball coach Mark Spigeralli will be assisting Fritz in getting an All-Star victory. The girls’ game tips off at 5:30 p.m. with the boys’ game to follow at 8 p.m. The games will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

After spending 30 years coaching and teaching in Missouri including the last 27 years at Lee’s Summit North Hilbert feels he is “very lucky and fell into this position.” Hilbert currently serves as a business teacher at Blue Valley North. Hilbert got an invite to help out from head girls basketball coach Ann Fritz who sent Hilbert a message “Texted, help me coach.” Coach Hilbert hasn’t worked with a girls team outside of one year coaching soccer at William Chrisman. Hilbert served as an assistant boys coach at Lee’s Summit North prior to serving as the head coach.

Hilbert finds Blue Valley North has “an excellent administration” and found this new position to be “a really easy transition.” The current BV North Mustangs girls team is “a fun team to be around.” Things are going so well on and off the court Hilbert states he “hopes to be my last stop.”

On the honor of being an assistant coach at the High School All-American Game, Hilbert has heard from both coaches he used to work with and coach against offering “congratulatory messages.” Many of them found out on social media. Hilbert admits regarding how they got selected by the All-American Game committee “not sure how they decide.” Hilbert found out about it three weeks ago while at a team practice. The event organizers reached out to Coach Fritz about coaching in the game. Upon learning of her selection Hilbert congratulated her and then heard Coach Fritz say “Come with me.” Hilbert is “thrilled for her” and feels it’s going to “be a thrill to be around those players and be at such a prestigious game.”

A couple of team members will have familiar names to long time NBA fans. Former NBA all-stars Zach Randolph and Shaquille O’ Neal have daughters that have been named to the All-American Team. There are 12 players on the East and West teams. The 12 players on the West team come from seven different states. While there are no players from Missouri or Kansas playing in the game there will be a local flavor on the bench thanks to the three-person coaching staff who hope to guide the West team to a victory.