New middle school basketball team ushers in unexpected winning season
For the first time since 2014, the middle school girls dominated the basketball court. Organized in the early 2000s, the middle school girls’ basketball team has dissolved and reestablished several times.
This year, the basketball tryouts’ success created a strong, 10-player team. Strategic planning during the COVID-19 pandemic forced the coaches to brainstorm and plan an unusual season, all while encouraging team participation.
“We did summer workouts in July to try and get girls [to play],” said Ms. Kristen Camp, the team’s new assistant coach. “[Training] over the summer really helped since we had new coaches and a new team.”
Ms. Camp, an alumnus of The King’s Academy, returned to the school to coach alongside her father, Coach Chris Camp, after playing for him for over a decade, beginning in 2004. She was overjoyed to be the “fun coach” to these young ladies.
“It really is so special coming back and coaching at the same place I played for so long,” said Ms. Camp. “I get to be relational and talk to the girls.”
Despite the excitement of coaching, the job has come with challenges. The team experienced a complete overhaul, with new coaches and only two returning players, Georgia Pierce and Olivia Gerard.
“I expected [the season] to be a lot tougher than it has been,” said Mr. Camp. “Any time you are bringing in a new group, there are always challenges. It was basically a new team because we only brought two girls from last year, but that is what I love about this team, the chemistry has been amazing. The girls seem to get along really well, and they are a lot of fun to watch.”
Seventh grader Hailey Landrum helps to lead the team with her strong ball-handling and loud voice, ensuring everyone knows where to be.
“She turns into our mom, in a good way, when she is on the court,” said Georgia Pierce, another seventh grader on the team. “She is loud and tells us what to do when we are confused.”
With all of the new additions to the team, Pierce and Gerard feel that the team has changed for the better. The adjustment was smooth, considering there were only two girls returning from last season.
As the team prepares for the playoffs, the Camp coaches believe their offensive game has improved the most.
“The middle school program is the lifeblood of any long-time successful program,” said Varsity girls’ coach Brad Cundiff. “It’s exciting to see players who can score the basketball with confidence and have begun to understand the value of playing as a team. I think the most important skill a middle school player can have is to learn to have confidence with the ball in your hands... I’m extremely encouraged with the middle school players and hope they will all continue with basketball, improving and enhancing their skills and learning to love the game.”