Guest commentary: Girls basketball ready for another season

Editor’s note: Homer High School Lady Mariner Rylyn Todd will be writing this season from a student athlete’s perspective. This week, she speaks about the first challenge of athletes: forging the bonds of a team.

On Nov. 29, a new Mariner basketball season started, although in all honesty it never truly ended. From the moment basketball ended in March of last year, the new season started. There were open gyms through the end of the school year and during the entire summer where a new team and dynamic were built from the ground up.

Everyone has worked extremely hard to get to where we are now.

After ending on a tough note last year, winning just a few games, the team was in desperate need of improvement. In June we attended a PGC (Point Guard Camp) basketball camp in Palmer as a team. It lasted five days and we were pushed out of our comfort zone, making ourselves better.

When our coach, Chad Felice, saw the improvement from just one camp, he was able to convince a couple of PGC instructors to conduct a camp in our own Homer gym this fall.

Later, soon after the departure of PGC, a new motto arose for our team: “Work hard and always bring the energy.” During our practices now it is all about encouraging each other, never ridiculing, but instead picking each other up. We never allow anyone to hang their heads or get down on themselves.

Every day we work hard, and while encouraging one another, we still push each other to become better.

As Felice always says, “Be comfortable with the uncomfortable.” As for the energy, we keep it at an eight and above. According to PGC, champions live at an energy level of eight and above and of course we want to be champions. As we have figured out from trial and error, energy does not have to be constant screaming encouragement at the top of our lungs. Energy is the constant communication with teammates.

That could mean anything from communication on the floor, to a personal handshake that we do with a teammate every time we see them, or even a simple high five to everyone in line for a drill. But most importantly, energy is about bringing passion and love for basketball to every practice and game. Although it may be hard to bring energy for an entire two-hour practice, Felice reminds us daily that if we bring the energy for two hours, a game of 32 minutes will feel like nothing.

We saw this energy in action a few weeks ago in our first tournament in Kenai. As always we had been working hard inpractice, bringing intense energy every day, and it paid off when game time came. We came away with one win that weekend, and we felt like winners. We could start to see our progress.

Out of all the teams we played, none of them matched our energy. All ten players, the five on the floor and the five on the bench, were constantly cheering and encouraging.

I remember a specific moment when coach had pulled me out as he could tell I was off my game a bit. I was getting frustrated, and I could feel emotions welling in my chest.

When coach finished talking to me, one of my teammates stood up and looked me right in the eyes, and said, “You’re good Ry, you’re good.” That was when I knew I was. I was fine. I’d get back out on that court and play my heart out because I knew that my team would stand behind me no matter what. They would be there to lift me up and that is the best feeling in the world.

Please come support us as we embark on a busy season. We play away the weekend of Jan. 11 through the 13 at Anchorage Christian School, Houston and Redington. If you cannot make the long journey, join us for our first home game on the Jan. 23 against Nikiski.