The senior girl’s basketball team has had quite the season so far. After playing seven games, they are three-quarters of the way through their season and have proven themselves unbeatable. So, what is it that makes them tick?
You might be able to spot a couple of these players around the school as they might actually be glowing with success. I had the chance to debrief with one of them: Alivia Schill. She explains that an average week for the team consists of two to three practices; one on Monday after school, one at 6:30 on Wednesday morning and usually one on Friday. They also play two games, on Tuesday and Thursday. This means that, excluding weekend tournaments, these girls are on the court approximately 6-7 hours a week. During practices, they run plays, undergo conditioning (aka lots of running), do lots of shooting, and are always refining their ball-handling techniques.
However, the team didn’t get where they are without sacrifice. Besides donating their free time and occasionally taking a basketball to the face, there is a lot more pressure on the senior team compared to previous years. Schill explains that the junior team is a completely different vibe; that it was more laid-back and the focus was on having fun, developing and building sportsmanship.
“Not that the senior team isn’t fun- we’re all just a lot more serious and driven.”
One of the sacrifices that needed to be made this year was a couple of the players not making it through cuts. Last year barely anyone tried out, so the team consisted of nine players on a good day. This year, 20 new grade elevens came up plus the existing grade twelves and two fifth years. “Mr. Wesson and Mrs. Kennedy had to make a lot of tough decisions,” says Schill. “It’s still a good thing because our bench is really deep at games.”
I also talked to Mrs. Kennedy, one of the coaches, to get a different perspective on their success. Mrs. Kennedy and Mr. Wesson coached the junior team up until this year when they took up the responsibility of the senior team for Mrs. Jilesen, who is on maternity leave. Kennedy explains that the most helpful factor in their success is the team’s common goal, making it to WCSSAA finals. The senior girl’s team hasn’t been to WCSSAA in years, so everyone is playing hard towards their objective.
“Right now we’re undefeated so that’s HUUUUUGE!!”Mrs. Kennedy, recommending use of all caps.
A good team dynamic is also super important when working together and according to Mrs. Kennedy, they haven’t had to mediate any problems or deal with the drama that sometimes comes with their junior teams. The team also had a chance to play an overnight tournament, which helps team bonding which can only come out positively on the court.
The last ingredient in their success, besides talent, of course, seems to be the wonderful coaches. “I think me and (Mr. Wesson) work well together because he’s good with plays, practice design, and offense but I’m more the psychiatrist emotional side of things,” says Kennedy. She explains that it’s really important for you to be honest with your athletes, and if they play like crap, you tell them; they never sugar coat it because then people think that they can give less than one hundred percent all the time. On the flip side, the coaches try hard to be empathetic towards their players and show that they understand what it means to be a teenager on a basketball team. They showed this effort by decreasing the number of tournaments from five to three because they know the girls have other responsibilities besides basketball.
“You gotta know your stuff, but you also gotta connect with your team. Interpersonal relationships are even more important than athletic relationships because if the players don’t like you they won’t want to work hard for you”.Mrs. Kennedy
The girls have another tough game ahead as they look to continue their winning streak: they play Galt C.I., another undefeated team, in an away game this Tuesday.