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June 17, 2005

Family

Wow. What a crazy couple of days. I’m back at the office after three days of basketball. The girls played eleven games in 2 1/2 days. And their record? It was an amazing 11-0.

What were the highlights? There were a lot. We took ten girls. Of those ten players, four girls were returning from last year’s varsity squad. But only two starters went on this trip. The other kids either played JV last year or were incoming freshmen. So we had a fairly young team. But the team played like a seasoned team that had played many games together.

Dana and Peyton played great inside. Whitney and Elizabeth were strong whenever they saw the ball (either inside or outside). Elizabeth will be someone to watch. This could be her breakout season! Kelsey and Hillary were amazing on the wing. We’ve watched Kelsey for five or six years. And now that her knee is strong, she is playing with fire in her eyes! Laura, Lauren and Abbey were great. They played strong when they were in. I especailly loved how hard they played on defense. But they were amazing teammates from the bench, as well. When they weren’t on the court, they were cheering or directing their teammates who were on the court. Finally, Jocelyn was fun to watch. She is an incoming freshmen with an attitude – a great attitude. She has an older sister at South. And her sister is the state champion pole vaulter. So Jocelyn has big shoes to fill. But she showed some good talent and some great promise. She has innate speed and a very good touch on her shot. She made some key jumpers when we needed them. She will be a welcome addition to the team.

While all of the wins were good wins, I was most impressed with the way the girls conducted themselves – both on and off the court. On the court, the girls played hard. They talked and called out what they saw. When they got loud on defense, nothing got past them. Even my daughter started to talk on the court. 🙂 In the first half of the semi-final game, the girls held their opponent to just three points. It was an amazing thing to behold. And after every game, the girls were genuine and generous in their praise for their opponents.

And Eddie was great at reinforcing this with the girls. He even made it a point to individually speak with a couple of the girls from the other teams. At one point, he even did some “one-on-one” shooting instruction for one girl from Parsons, Kansas. You’ve got to admit that you would smile when you got home and told your parents and friends that a former NBA player was doing shot instruction with you. It must have made that girl’s week. And Eddie had the same effect on most of our girls.

Off the court, the girls spoke to other players from other teams. Dana made it a point to hang out with Ashley Lord – an AAU teammate who plays for a 2A school in south-eastern Kansas. But all of the girls were warm and cheery to everyone they met. Even the opposing coaches were great. It was amazing to see coaches walk up and just chat with each other. It was quite a difference from the “take no prisoners” attitude that we often see in surburban Kansas City (or even in AAU ball).

Usually, there is a lot of time for other things – like movies or shopping with the girls. But this time was different. They were either playing ball or resting before they played ball again. Yet throughout the camp, the girls were motivated, energetic and supportive of one another. It was great to see. And this camp should really help the girls get unified and focus them for state-wide success next year. I can’t wait until the regular season begins again.

-CyclingRoo-

P.S. The coach asked me to sit on the bench as his assistant coach. It was quite an honor – and quite strange. I know enough about the game to be dangerous – but not enough to be truly instructive. And since my daughter was playing, I mostly kept my mouth shut. For those of you that know me, you know what a Herculean task that was. But I learned a lot from being on the bench. Eddie is a great coach. The girls responded to his enthusiasm and his knowledge of the game. I hope some of the girls will get a chance to work with him again.

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