Taking it to the hoop: Senior posts up in leadership role on team

Working one’s way up to the top requires hard word, dedication, time, effort, and patience. When a sophomore earns their spot on a varsity team, the style of play changes. It’s faster, it’s harder, it’s more aggressive, and it’s overwhelming, but as the seasons pass, the player gains experience and that sophomore who was overwhelmed now leads the team. Senior Charnell Gibson has experienced this in basketball, starting out on the JV team as a freshman and then as a sophomore on varsity. She was immersed in the change of pace and is now leading the charge on the court.

The game of basketball is physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting, but this is where athletes thrive. Charnell has met the challenges and takes the opportunities to overcome them.

“I have grown a lot since my sophomore year,” Charnell said. “I’m mentally and physically stronger. Now I’m not afraid to get to the basket and take chances in games.”

She has taken advantage of the use of weightroom days, strength and conditioning camp over the summer, and open gyms to reach the point where she is at now.

“We have been going to the weight room a lot,” Charnell said. “Additionally we were required to go to strength and conditioning camp over the summer. I also throw shot put, so that in combination with the track weight room workouts has helped me reach my physical peak in basketball.”

Charnell has brought an aspect to the team, that the program was searching for; experience. The program graduated eight seniors last year, meaning there are many inexperienced athletes this year at the varsity level.

“Experience is a huge factor on varsity,” head basketball coach Beth Jesurun said. “Charnell brings needed experience to the court. She helps the younger athletes understand what it takes to be successful while showing them how to get there, which is important to the team dynamic.”

Communication is key in any team sport, and basketball is no exception. When a player is not in the right position at the right time during a game or a drill, things go wrong. Charnell is able to communicate the expectations to the younger players during drills, which is a vital asset.

“Since we are a very young team,” Charnell said, “we slow down and break down the drills in practice. Usually we’ll pause, and I can communicate the right way to do the drill and our expectations.”

On the court, Charnell is able to help the younger players during tough parts of a game and take charge when she needs to.

“Charnell is very vocal,” senior teammate Atiana Davis said. “She voices her opinions and she keeps the younger players in line. In game situations, she is very calming, stable, and consistent. She has a presence and she takes control of situations. She’s basically in charge.”

Charnell views this year’s team as her team, as she understands what it means to be in a leadership role where others are looking to her for direction.

“When we win, it’s a team win,” Charnell said. “When we lose, I feel like it’s my fault. I feel like if something goes wrong, it’s on me since I wasn’t there to help the younger players, or I didn’t do enough to put my team in a position to win.”

Charnell has used basketball to help her reach some of her goals both mentally and physically.

“Basketball is what I look forward to everyday,” Charnell said. “I know when 8th period comes, it’s gonna be a good day and a good practice. If I didn’t have basketball, I wouldn’t have discipline and my attitude would be worse. I would be frustrated and would give up.”
Charnell is also a member of the track team and throws shot put. She has set high goals for herself this coming season, like throwing the shot put 42 feet. What she learned from basketball, and holding herself to a high standard has brought her many opportunities and college visits.

“I have a college visit to Kansas for shot put,” Charnell said. “Basketball has helped me with shot put immensely by giving me the opportunity to work out and get stronger while also working on mental toughness.”

Charnell has become successful in many aspects of her life and has taken advantage of the opportunities put in front of her.

“I want to see her be successful as a human being, and as a basketball player,” Jesurun said.” If basketball can help her reach another goal in her life, then that is the icing on the cake.”