Stress levels were high in the AD office as Missy and I went over the injury report. There is nothing more helpless than an athletic director two days before opening night of the basketball season. Everything is scheduled and you are just anxiously waiting to see what the character of the team will be when they step on to the floor. We tried to busy ourselves with spring scheduling, stalking middle school soccer players who haven't returned their jerseys, and reviewing the fall 2020 calendar one more time, but in our minds we stressed about ankle sprains, shin splints and a fever that was running through the Upper School and had hit one of my favorite student-athletes Rachel H'20.
The basketball teams traveled to Salem Academy on Wednesday and Rachel was dressed and ready to lead the girls team. The reason Rachel always stands out to me is I love kids that have great fundamentals. Rachel does all of the little things. Instead swiping at the ball, she moves her feet on defense! Instead of trying to block a shot and fouling, she hustles to the spot and draws a charge. She boxes out her opponent every time there is a shot! On offense she doesn't waste her dribble and although it sometimes seems like she is allergic to shooting the ball, it is often more likely that she sees a teammate that is moving to a better spot, so she throws a bounce pass that would make Pete Carril beam with pride. She sweats the small stuff that no longer gets noticed on Instagram or other self curated highlight shows. She is just a winner that focuses on playing a complete game.
The girls jumped out on Salem Academy. On offense the girls set great shoulder to shoulder screens, and they attacked the boards. You know a team has established its culture when the freshmen get thrown into the first game and you see them doing the hard things also. When Cayton S lost the ball on a breakaway, she didn't hang her head. She sprinted back to the defensive end and was in the right spot to get a steal. Hollis H stepped in at center due to captain Ava C getting in early foul trouble, and Hollis stood tall, she closed out on shooters and she boxed out. And Rachel H? Two days removed from being home in her PJ's with a 102 fever? She played every single minute. She finished with 10 points, 3 rebounds, 1 deflection. But when you watch the film you would see her on every rep doing the little things that lead to the team's 32-20 victory.
The boys struggled during their first game against Salem Academy losing 54-36. The coaches were in the film room early the next day identifying what they need to improve on. After watching both of our teams on film after one game I know there is a lot of basketball left this season. The coaches will continue to stress the importance of taking pride in doing the little things that lead to success.
I am fortunate to be one of the 5th grade boys coaches. We had our first practice on Wednesday and the drills that I was in charge of were all about what I saw from our varsity teams. As I wrapped up my drill on closing out and moving your feet instead of trying to block shots or steal the ball, I huddled up the boys and told them I hope some day they are on this court playing for a league championship. And maybe they will be as good as Rachel H.
Thank you! Sitting in an office all day can really suck the life out of you. That is why Thursday was so amazing. As I sat in front of my computer, alum Stephen London'09 stopped by to donate his old ski racing equipment to the team. I hadn't seen Stephen since 2009 and it was so amazing to reconnect. He shared with me how much skiing, soccer, his teachers and coaches positively affected him and how he had started to coach soccer so he could pass it on. It was like rocket fuel to get back behind the desk and keep working. Our alumni are amazing. They come back to cheer on their former teammates, like Stephen, they donate gear to the program, but more importantly they take the what they learned here at OES and share it with the greater community.