Basketball bonds: Varsity basketball grows together


Photo credit: Lea Roth

Senior and co-captain Marissa Gendy dribbles in a game against Heritage High School. The team has worked together to support one another as friends and as teammates as they work to improve their skills and scores.

By Thea Leimone, Features Editor

The gym walls of Park Century School echo with the sound of dribbling basketballs. Here, Archer’s varsity basketball team practices for their upcoming games. Their season began with practice on Oct. 18, and they played their first game on Nov. 16, against Notre Dame Academy. Since then, they have been learning to work together and lift each other up in practice and games. The team of eight girls has finished their first seven games of the season, and are setting goals for the upcoming weeks.

Ninth grader Eden Oje has been playing basketball since fifth grade, and said playing with old and new teammates each year at Archer has been a dynamic and bonding experience.

“I love every single year of my basketball experience here. It’s always so much fun getting to see old and new teammates, and bonding with everyone,” Oje said. “Especially with the coaches that are on campus, it’s always so nice to bond with them and then see them in the hallways and just have casual talk.”

This year’s team is smaller than those they are competing against in both height and number of players. The size difference posed challenges in earlier games senior and co-captain Marissa Gendy said. However, the team has worked to improve their skills with each practice and game.

“We’re a very small team. So, obviously, compared to these bigger teams, we’re small in size and height and like everything — we’re just small,” Gendy said. “Playing against these teams has been really, really incredibly hard because they’re just beating us in height. But, we have won a couple of games, and we are trying really hard. At each game you can see such an improvement.”

Beyond overcoming size and skill challenges, the team has worked towards playing together and for one another rather than just themselves. Taking on this different mindset has allowed them to become a better team on and off the court Gendy said.

“Whether that’s our defense or offense, we’re just improving as a team and we’ve just learned to work together, which is very different from the beginning of this season. We were all just playing in it for ourselves,” Gendy said. “Now, we’re working as a team because we learned that by winning and by scoring, we score as a whole team … because the score at the end of the day reflects us as a team and not an individual.”

Three year varsity basketball coach Lea Roth echoed Gendy’s statement about progress within each game, especially against more experienced teams.

We’ve come a long way since a pre-season, just in how they work together on the court. Like I said, we’ve lost a lot of games and despite playing teams that are maybe at a higher tier of experience or skill — it’s fought together, the whole entire game, to the end, and they’re supporting each other,” Roth said. “I’ve seen that develop a lot since our first game compared to our game last week.” 

The team has won one game this season, on their home court against Holy Family. But, they have come close to a win when they lost by only two points to Da Vinci School. Regardless of the score of their games, the team finds a way to stay close and have fun with one another.

“Even when we’re winning or when we’re losing, we always find a way to make fun — especially this last game we lost, but it was really fun still playing with each other,” Oje said. “And after the game, we were all laughing, just congratulating each other for just playing because it’s not an easy sport. It’s just nice that everyone was happy even if we lost.”

The team has come to realize that they are there to support each other. Roth has worked to instill the mindset of working hard, improving and playing your best no matter the score.

“It takes a lot to take a lot to keep fighting even when we’re outmatched or losing by a lot. Quarter by quarter, they’re still giving their best effort the whole entire game, and the way I’ve seen them support each other — there’s so much more to sport than just the wins,” Roth said. “And it’s easy to lose sight of things that matter, like supporting each other and working hard, and just playing with integrity. And so the fact that they’re on the track to continue doing that, I’m proud of them already.”

The bond between teammates goes beyond the court as the small team is able to share their support for one another in the halls of the school. This year’s team has two co-captain seniors to help guide and lead the other players on the team.

“I feel like we have this really great bond because when one of us is down, the other is able to pick up,” Gendy said. “Even if it’s not skills-wise, if it’s just motivating and being there cracking a joke or seeing each other in the hallway, and just high fiving. It’s just because we’re so small we were able to create such a strong bond in such a small time.”