As the starting line-up names are announced at the beginning of girls’ varsity basketball games, junior Jenny Walker strides through the cheerleader’s arc of pom poms to greet her teammate, senior Zoe Stachowski, with a shoulder-bump. Within a few minutes, the two are connecting passes and making plays with ease across the court.
Even though both attended the same summer camps in middle school and Redwood open gym trainings twice a week during summers, Stachowski and Walker’s close bond didn’t start immediately.
“For some reason, Zoe kept hurting me. One time she elbowed me in the throat. So at first I was like ‘Wow, this girl is going to take my spot on the team,’ but then eventually we figured out that she didn’t want to hurt me and we just clicked,” Walker
A year later, when she was a freshman and Stachowski was a sophomore, Walker joined Stachowski on the varsity team. Since then, their relationship on the court has transformed.
Stachowski and Walker both play the ‘post’ position. Upon first playing together at Redwood, their same style of playing clashed and prevented them from complementing each other.
“At first it was kind of a challenge because we both played the same exact way. We would always go for the same rebound and then get mad at each other because we both would hit it,” Stachowski said “There was always a competition between us, but now that we’ve both developed our game in different ways. It’s working really well.”
Both Stachowski and Walker have converted the primary clashing to complementing each other’s playing styles.
“I call Zoe a horse because she’s so big and powerful. I’m always screaming and Zoe is always screaming. It’s not very organized but I always have her back,” Walker said.
Walker and Stachowski have also used their knowledge of playing the same position to their advantage.
“She still plays post but she is changing to guard position and I’ve just gotten stronger inside, so we work a lot better on the court now,” Stachowski said
Their growth as both individual players and as a duo has allowed them to collaborate and be in sync on the court. Stachowski and Walker have developed a friendship off the court that has contributed to knowing when to support each other on the court.
“If I miss a lay up she’s always on the other side to get the rebound. [Walker] sits at the three-point line sometimes and I’ll be up at the other side of the court and I can just lob it to her because no guards are there and she’s really good at shooting threes,” Stachowski said.
Their unity on the court has lead to statistics that haven’t gone unnoticed. Stachowski, the team’s leading scorer, averages 15 points a game this season, according to MaxPreps. Walker, third top-scorer, averages 8.9 points a game this season, according to MaxPreps.
Walker, who’s been playing basketball since fourth grade, and Stachowski, who’s been playing since seventh grade, are also both on the same Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) travel team. According to Stachowski, the elite AAU team has also brought them closer because the team travels out of state frequently for tournaments and they always room together.
Their close relationship on and off the court has also allowed them to challenge each other.
“I always force Zoe to her left hand because she needs to work on her left hand. So I always get really close to her because she hates pressure, but I just do it to make her uncomfortable so when other teams do it she gets better,” Walker said.
Communication is also a key component to their success on the court.
“I know when I get upset on the court, Jenny is always picking me up and whenever she gets mad I’m always there for her. We just communicate a lot of the court. If something doesn’t go right when we play, we talk about it and we fix it right there,” Stachowski said.
Having a teammate that thinks alike and has the same understanding of the game creates a sense of comfort on the court for Stachowski.
“It is just one of those things when on the court she’s always there for me to go to and I know she will always be there for me. It feels safe for me for her to be on the court and she understands everything that I go through,” Stachowski said.