Fresh faces bring fresh talent to 'Cats

West’s varsity basketball team will rise or fall on the shoulders of youth this season. Coming off a disappointing 2016-2017 campaign, the Wildcats are looking to rebound thanks to its new members. Though earning a spot on the varsity team is highly competitive, three freshmen, Reese Lang, Mia Schlotthauer, and Kiersten Mcnulty, managed to accomplish the task. Megan Kaminski, a four-year varsity basketball player, enjoys the addition of new faces to the team’s depth.

“I’ve noticed that this year in general is more positive and fun,” she said. “The girls are striving to be a part of the way we do things and are adding new talent as well.”

The feeling of optimism and positivity is unanimous throughout the team this year; Head Coach Niki Sutter agrees with these sentiments.

“What I’ve noticed during practice is that our team has a lot of energy, positivity, and enthusiasm this year,” she said.

Part of this positive vibe from the girls comes from their dedication to the team and drive.

“I think the three freshmen are very competitive and they want to win,” Sutter said. “You mix that with the girls that really want to change things around here and the freshmen really add to that mindset.”

Positive attitudes alone, however, won’t earn anyone a spot on the varsity. Kaminski recognizes their talent, as she has walked in similar footsteps.

“The girls have really been stepping up, even when they get thrown into games that they may not be comfortable for them,” she said.

As a coach, Sutter is forced to make difficult decisions when placing athletes on the different teams. However, with their talent and positional dedication, these freshmen stood out to the coaches.

“We took these girls based upon positional needs we had,” she said. “We needed some ball handling which was Reese’s goal, Mia is a natural scorer, and Kiersten makes a huge impact on both ends of the floor.”

Lang understands the need for dedication to one’s sport. With talent comes a drive for improvement, and being on the varsity team, she recognizes her weaknesses and strives for growth each day.

“It’s all about learning what you’re not good at and working on your personal weaknesses out of practice to make yourself better, and better the team overall,” she said.

Sutter emphasizes the importance of learning to take feedback, hoping that both their teammates and herself as coach help the girls grow and learn throughout the season.

“The girls have been doing a great job so far; they’ve been picking up on things very quickly, asking questions, and when they make mistakes, they have been doing a great job trying to fix them,” she said.

With many practices occurring at the crack of dawn and multiple games a week being a norm for the girls, great dedication is required for success on the team. With great dedication comes significant growth, something Lang aims for.

“I think I’m going to become a more well-developed basketball player because I know what I need to work on to get better, and I know my role on the team” she said.

Having three freshmen on the team is a unique situation, however, seniors like Ashley Fontaine are embracing this opportunity.

“Having the girls on the team is really unique because they are all young and still learning, but we are also learning from them and their skills,” Fontaine said.

Both teaching others and growing themselves, Sutter sees this experience paying off in the long run, creating talented and hardworking players. Only opportunity can truly measure ability, according to the veteran coach.

“Hopefully this experience makes the girls hungry to get better individually and make them confident in what they can bring to the court,” she said.


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