Girls’ Varsity Basketball: The Freshman Experience

The 2019-20 girls’ varsity basketball team. 
Left to right, back row: Rinnie Jardini (grade 9), Jaeden Dorsett (grade 9), Madison Martin (grade 10), Desirae Nance (grade 10), Naomi Wigley (grade 9), Shea Alexa McCoy (grade 9), Alisha Mattson (grade 10), Ryen Harrison (grade 10, team manager).
Front row: Head Coach Mark Gaither, Assistant Coach Matt Walsh, Bre Warner (grade 11), JJ Jardini (grade 11), Kamryn Lightcap (grade 11), Mia DelVecchio (grade 11), Assistant Coach Jocelyn Warfield.
(Sewickley Academy)

The 2019-20 girls’ varsity basketball team. Left to right, back row: Rinnie Jardini (grade 9), Jaeden Dorsett (grade 9), Madison Martin (grade 10), Desirae Nance (grade 10), Naomi Wigley (grade 9), Shea Alexa McCoy (grade 9), Alisha Mattson (grade 10), Ryen Harrison (grade 10, team manager). Front row: Head Coach Mark Gaither, Assistant Coach Matt Walsh, Bre Warner (grade 11), JJ Jardini (grade 11), Kamryn Lightcap (grade 11), Mia DelVecchio (grade 11), Assistant Coach Jocelyn Warfield. (Sewickley Academy)

Ibrahim Khan, News Writer

Shoot, dribble, and pass. On the court, the players’ eyes never leave the ball. Strength in competition is important at Sewickley Academy, and basketball is no exception. This year especially, the girls’ varsity team has had a successful track record, going 6-4 in their section. Determination and hard work brought them to this level, and this was represented by upperclassmen as well as underclassmen. The interesting thing about this year’s girls varsity basketball team is the amount of young blood; out of the 11 athletes on the team, 4 of them are freshmen.

One freshman player, Rinnie Jardini, said, “I would definitely say my teammates and I have a tight bond. We’re almost like sisters.”

Jardini’s favorite aspect of the team is the sense of camaraderie that they share. “I love the family/team aspect we have. The girls always have my back, no matter the situation.”

Basketball isn’t just a sport for this team; it’s an opportunity for them to form relationships with each other.

The team has been plagued with a bit of bad luck this year. During a game against Rochester earlier in the season, two starters were benched due to illness and injury.

“When [injuries] happen,” Jardini said, “we can’t do anything but plan around it. We plan the game plan around our strengths, and focus on the little things like passing and dribbling.”

It is easy to imagine varsity basketball would be stressful for a freshman  but it may be the opposite.

“It’s actually been so easy to transition to a higher level of play,” Jardini said. “The other girls on the team are so welcoming and inviting. The team has made me feel incredibly comfortable in moving into the high school.”

From victories to struggles, making the girls’ varsity basketball team successful is no easy feat. Yet, through support from each other and their peers, the players are able to move forward with determination every day on the court.

Go Panthers!