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Defining success: Middle school purple basketball begins season with ‘spirit,’ ‘pride’

Photo credit: Archer Athletics
Elyse Harris (’29) dribbles the basketball away from a Crossroads navy team member. The middle school purple basketball team beat Crossroads 41-5 in their first game of the season Wednesday, Dec. 13.

Former Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant said, “The important thing is that your teammates have to know you’re pulling for them and you really want them to be successful.” According to basketball head coach Dani LeNoir, the middle school purple team is demonstrating this principle through their enthusiasm, joy and team spirit heading into the beginning of their season. 

Their competitive season began Wednesday, Dec. 13, with a scrimmage against Crossroads’ navy team before pausing for winter break. Archer beat Crossroads 41-5. The season will resume Tuesday, Jan. 9, with a second and official league match against Crossroads.

The team is composed of 14 middle school players, some with as much as seven years of practice and some beginning their first year of the sport.

Seventh grader Zoë Butler said LeNoir has facilitated a positive environment where players of all skill levels are able to have fun and learn on the court together. Through these conditions, she said the team is able to cultivate this spirit while playing.

“Coach L really influences [our spirit] because she pushes us to make sure we are doing what we are meant to be doing, but also she knows it’s important to have fun,” Butler said. “She definitely keeps us all in good spirits and energized.”

LeNoir said her coaching style is playful, but she also has high expectations. She said she understands the importance of making jokes and keeping practices lighthearted but also of recognizing when it’s time for the team to focus on specific goals.

New Archer student and basketball player Kamryn Nobuyuki (‘30) said she feels grateful for Lenoir.

“She’s probably one of the best coaches I’ve ever had,” Nobuyuki said. “And she’s supportive, on top of things, and she’s very, very funny.”

The team trains on Archer’s Sport Court, often sharing the space with other training teams. LeNoir holds practices after school from 3-5 p.m. Despite not yet playing a league match, LeNoir said the team possesses an abundance of team spirit during practice.

“That’s one of the biggest things I like to emphasize at the very beginning of the season because I know we’re not going to get very far without [spirit],” LeNoir said. “I want them to have a great time playing while they’re also getting better. So they take a lot of pride in getting better, and that spirit pumps each other up. And sometimes, it takes time to build that with a team, but they pick it up really fast. They already have great bonds with each other.”

Nobuyuki said the team’s energy not only comes from LeNoir but also the game itself.

“Usually, in basketball, you have to be very loud and very annoying to defend,” Nobuyuki said. “So because of this, the team has a lot of energy, and we are very energetic. And we do a lot of yelling and screaming during the matches for each other.”

For some teams success looks like a perfect record, but LeNoir said she measures the success of the team differently.

“Success looks like them getting better every day. I tell them, ‘I’m not going to say I don’t care about wins and losses’ — yes, we care. We’re competing for a reason. But my main concern is that they are giving their full effort and trying something new and failing and trying again,” LeNoir said. “So watching them grow as players is my biggest highlight. I love seeing them grow over the years.”

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About the Contributor
Oona Seppala, Senior Reporter
Oona Seppala joined the Oracle as a staff reporter in 2022 and became a senior reporter in 2023. She plays on the varsity tennis team, is a member of Archer's a cappella group, is on the Honor Education Council and Service Squad. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her friends, reading, and playing instruments.

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