No ‘I’ in TEAM

Basketball team bonds, improves to rebuild program

With an overall record of 19-10 and a district record of 9-3, the girls’ basketball team has shown endurance, motivation, and drive to return to the field of play as contenders for a district championship after many losing seasons. 

“The biggest thing is growing physically, time in the weight room, doing reps in the gym, and just getting better fundamentally and skill-wise,” girls’ basketball coach Christopher Jones said. “We’re bigger and stronger because we started with a lot of freshmen a few years ago, and now they are juniors and sophomores. The most important thing has been physical development and maturing.”

Team members have seen how the process over the last few years has worked to make them stronger and give them the confidence they need to move into the win column.

“Losing has made us work harder, and it has made us learn from our mistakes and learn how we messed up in the previous years,” junior Ka’Lanndrea Gooden said. “We have lost and now we have also learned how to win.”

Long-time history teacher Ruth Whiteley came back after retiring last year to coach the JV team. As the pioneer of the program, Whiteley is invested in seeing the program turn around.

“Whiteley started the girls’ program at Bryan High in the 70s, and so nobody wants this program to be successful more than her,” Jones said. “Bringing her back has been huge. She loves the program and the kids, and she’s a passionate competitor.”

Ka’Lanndrea said she appreciates how much the coaches have worked with the team this year to help them achieve everything they have worked so hard to get.

“Coach Whiteley and Coach Jones have brought more discipline this year,” Ka’Lanndrea said. “They really want us to get that title of District Champs so they’re pushing us more.”

The success of this year’s team can also be attributed to the hard work and passion the team has put into it each day. 

“We all know what it feels like to lose and we just all want to win and we all work hard every single day,” junior Taler Thornton said. “We get up every day at 6:45 just to make sure that we’re doing what we need to do.”

Taking that motivation and drive to the court each day has helped the team bond and work together to set goals and then achieve them.

“The strengths of this team are that we are all together, we all play together, and I think that everybody wants to see everybody succeed,” Taler said. “I’m excited to see what we are able to accomplish next season with the momentum we have built.”

Their coach has seen the commitment the girls have continued to show and said that he is proud of everything they have done to get to this point.

“The girl’s have worked for it, it’s something they’ve been looking forward to for years and working, and they’ve been losing and learning how to lose and now they’re learning how to win,” Jones said. “They’ve been getting better about it as we go, and it’s something that they’ve earned and should be happy about and enjoy.”

Jones also said that the team has the components needed to continue to build the program in the future.

“The sky’s the limit with how far we can go, we’re a small team, but we’re fast, and speed kills, and you can’t coach against speed,” Jones said. “Size you can coach against, but speed is a whole other deal, so we’re a fast team so as long as we keep playing fast and keep playing together I think we can go pretty far.”

With each practice and game the girls on the team are working to create something bigger than themselves as they work together to create a team.

“The girls are becoming more and more committed, and they are bonded working together in off-seasons and summers, and I think it’s paid off over the years,” Jones said. “They are starting to buy into each other and what they can do together. That’s the most important thing, and it’s not so much buying into the program or buying into the coach, they need to buy into each other and what they can accomplish when they play together. It’s the most important thing.”