This years team is a slam dunk! Girls Basketball stronger than ever

This year’s team is a slam dunk! Girls Basketball stronger than ever

You have heard “practice makes perfect” especially if you are an athlete, and there are few teams on campus that live by that more than the Girls Basketball team. 

 

For the team, an average after school practice means repetition and work. 

“They’re running the floor hard. Doing drills that are pretty, pretty tough, but that’s what makes them better,” head coach Kelly Stevenson says.

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Then, they do it all again in their club team practices at AAU. If the team has a game the next day, they go over the game plan again and again in order to perfect their strategies and play the hardest they can. 

 

It can be easy to say that practice makes perfect, but when there are so many variables in sports, the practice and repetition that makes a team “perfect” might be thrown off by new players, coaches, or new teams in the area. 

 

However, the Girls Basketball team has perfected their strategies over the years. 

That all starts with the coaching staff, which has been working together for what seems like forever. Stevenson continues to serve as the head coach and has been at Bolles for the last 18 years. Her assistant coach, Tia Scott, joined in 2008 while Jessica Pierce joined in 2018 and Jennifer Cleek in 2021. Because the staff has been working together for so long, they can comfortably share the “good cop, bad cop” roles for the players. 

 

“That’s what assistant coaches are there for, obviously, to give me help with the kids, especially with the players because sometimes that can be hard as the head coach. So they come behind and, and, you know, give them a pat on the back,” says Stevenson. 

 

The amazing chemistry of the coaching staff trickles down into the players and they mirror the same connective energy. This comes as a result of playing together for so long. The 2023-2024 team is similar to the last season’s, minus the three seniors that the program graduated last spring. Sophomore and newcomer Terrell McCoy has come from the Bahamas to play for the team and is its only new addition. 

 

The players have been through countless practices and scrimmages together so they know what each player’s strengths and weaknesses are and are able to fill in and help them out in order to make their teammates look good. The team also can see when a player is down and knows how to pick them back up because yes, they don’t want their negative emotions to affect their performance, but also because the team cares about one another on a personal level. 

 

The pride the girls show in the teams and in one another is obvious to spectators of their games and also to their coaches. 

 

“The team chemistry is unbelievable. They get along, they love each other, and they play hard for each other. And as a coaching staff, it’s so great. It’s so fun to coach when not only are they talented, but they get along and they work hard, and they hold each other accountable. I mean, they’re everything,” explains Stevenson. 

 

It’s clear that every player on the team values the sport to an incredible extent. So much that almost all of them go on to play basketball in college. In their junior year, players make a list of 20 schools, five schools that a player would love to play at, 10 that they know they could play at comfortably, and five schools that seem like a reach but might be achievable. Then, the coaches personally reach out to every school’s coach either by email or phone. The coaches also place players at tournaments that they know recruiters will be at and encourage players to reach out to the schools they are interested in. 

 

Even though the players spend so much time and energy playing basketball, many of them are dual athletes with some players playing softball, lacrosse, and track. This is actually encouraged by the coaches because this allows them to “help the school in other ways,” and it allows the athletes to use muscles and skills that they don’t use often in basketball. When the basketball season picks up again, the players feel excited and eager to play the sport again instead of feeling burned out. 

 

When asked what the biggest obstacle for the season was or what the team needed to change, the head coach responded with only praise for the team. 

 

“In my opinion, I think we’re one of the top teams in Jacksonville, if not Florida. And we just can’t beat ourselves. Because we are so talented. And we’re playing so well together right now that we don’t need to worry about anybody else. We just need to keep taking care of each other…this is one of the most talented teams I’ve ever had,” says Stevenson.

About the Contributor
Isabel Schimpff
Isabel Schimpff, Coffeehouse Editor
Isabel Schimpff is a junior, third-year staffer and this year's Coffeehouse editor. She enjoys traveling with CISV, going to the ceramics studio, and getting ice cream with her friends. Her goal for this year is to get ahead of her deadlines and is proud of her interview skills. A fun fact about Isabel is that her favorite animal is a platypus.