New Year for Girls Varsity Basketball


Photograph by Jenna Kochen

It’s a new season for the girls basketball team in more ways than one. Previous years have been tinged with glory, but this year is shaping up differently. “Trying to teach these kids the level of commitment required, the level of toughness, the workload that’s required has been a transition,” stated Ochiel Swaby, the head coach of the team and a physical education teacher, “and it’s led to a few losses to start our season.”

Losing the star power of former seniors Channise Lewis and Kelsey Marshal, Coach O has had to boost the team with new players. “We’ve added four middle schoolers and two upper schoolers,” Coach O explains.

For the new players, the extremely high demand schedule may affect their adjustment to both the school and the team. New student and teammate, Rachel Kaiser, who is in tenth grade, finds the team inviting and different from her old school. “The level of play is way different. We play at a higher level, we play national teams.”

Because of this, Swaby’s responsibility as a coach has switched as well. “In the past I consider what I did as more of a manager, less as a coach,” he reveals. “This year we need to teach a lot, coach more because the kids just don’t know what it takes. So I’m spending more time going back and teaching basic basketball skills, whether that be dribbling, shooting, and just some of the basic skills required to play this game.”

Milani McCormack, a veteran shooting guard, is a third year player. She finds that because there are so many new players it is a different team. “It’s more repetition, “ she says, meaning they go through drills a lot more than they used to.

Jordan Fishman believes this is true as well. “We go over plays much more than we did last year, we are more flexible with it because we have a bunch of new players. And also, we lost our two best players, they went away to college so this year is our recovery year . . . It’s a learning process, as long as we win states that our goal at the end.”

The entire school is looking at the team with a watchful eye, hoping and wondering if they will be as successful as in previous years. “This year’s team based on our schedule we are going to have some losses, which doesn’t mean we failed.  I just think we knew this year was going to be a transition year, we are not trying to compete with past teams, we are trying to maximize and get the most out of whatever that particular team is each and every year,” says Coach O.  

Coach O stated, “Coming on Thanksgiving for practice, coming in on Christmas, practicing year round, being here during the summer, not getting a break of any sort, traveling, trying to do school work, it’s a commitment which is very difficult.”

Managing time is a difficulty for the students.  “Managing my time is hard to do, but for the most part is mostly time management”, explains Milani McCormack. “It’s hard sometimes to always go to practice. Some days I would much rather be home.” “My teachers are very good with helping me out”, states Jordan Fishman, “Especially If we go away, on an out of town tournament, my teachers help me get caught and everything just works out”

Coach O knows that the team can go on to win big titles, but understands that he and his fellow coaches have to do certain things to make this possible.  “Absolutely, the talent is here, we just have to be better coaches this year and be more patient because there is so much newness, new faces” He explains. He additionally understands to have another championship team, they also have to work extremely hard and “Continue to push and continue to set high expectations. Don’t settle they try to achieve what some of the other teams have achieved in the past in terms of winning championships but also be realistic we don’t want to overwhelm them with anything like that but we have to set the bar high and they have to reach it.”