Strong bond helps girls’ basketball succeed

Daniela Laborinho Schwartz

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Varsity Girls’ Basketball season preview

With a senior-laden roster and strong off-court friendships, the girls’ varsity basketball team is taking a familial approach this season with hopes that its improved chemistry will lead to on-court success.

“If you walked into the team room before one of our practices you might be a little overwhelmed with our energy,” said senior Nicki Yang, a third-year varsity player.

Only five weeks into the season, the team has already become a family.

Along with creating an Instagram page that has more than 460 followers, the team regularly goes out to eat, and has plans to go ice skating. They do yoga and weight training together each week and are adding  mindfulness training as well.

“This is by far one of the most tight teams socially that we’ve had. They all genuinely enjoy each other’s company which is something that is such a huge contribution to being a successful team,” said head coach Diane Peterson.

The energy and positivity of each individual player has had a contagious effect on the team, resulting in a tight-knit environment that will allow the Giants to succeed, according to Yang.

“This is one of the fastest seasons that we’ve come together and bonded really quick,” said senior and returning varsity player Layla Dunne. “It is super comfortable both on and off the court.”

Sophomore Gabby Beltran swishes a free throw against Urban High School at a tournament.

According to Peterson, the trust built in the locker room carries onto the court, leading to  better communication during games. Yang said that last year the team didn’t display this level of friendship so early in the season.

“We are definitely on the right track [this year]. Last year sometimes we would play as individuals more just because of our [lack of] closeness on and off the court,” Yang said.

Along with communication, Peterson has incorporated extra strength and mental training early on in the season to help the girls reach their full potential.

For two years Peterson has had Marcie Anderson, a long time friend of Peterson and meditation specialist, practice yoga and meditation with the team. The girls currently do this two to three times a week. Mindfulness is a new practice that the basketball program will be implementing this year.

 Starting next week, three times a week, freshman, JV and varsity teams will work with a mindfulness trainer to learn how to block out outside distractions.

“It’s just learning how to destress and not overwhelm yourself and really take things as they happen and continue to move forward. So to translate that into basketball terms it would be, you know, coming down and missing a shot but being able to get back on defense and forget about missing that shot, and not worrying about it,” Peterson said.

The girls’ team, along with the other Redwood basketball teams, also works with strength trainer Stevie Compagno, a Redwood alumnus, son of the boys’ varsity coach and brother of sophomore guard Anna Compagno. The girls’ team has worked more with Compagno during the season this year, versus previous years when they worked with him only in  the offseason.

“When we weren’t doing it weekly, it was maybe every other week or a couple times a month. You aren’t going to see results like that, and so we are now doing it twice a week, or at most three times, but nothing more than that,” Peterson said.

The Giants finished 11-16 last season and lost in the first round of MCAL playoffs, falling short of their aspirations to beat Justin-Siena and finish in the top four teams. This season, the girls hope their focus on team chemistry will improve their on-court rhythm.

Zoë Stachowski scores a free throw during a tournament game against Urban High School.

Zoë Stachowski scores a free throw during a tournament game against Urban High School.

On the court, key players include Yang, the team’s point guard, the powerful post combination of junior Zoe Stachowski, sophomore Jenny Walker and senior shooting guard Heidi Roenisch. The four played together last season and are the leading scorers thus far.

Yang hopes that the unity the team has already displayed will stick with them through the rest of the season and ensure that each teammate will have each other’s back on the court.

“All of our personalities click because we are so positive together and really love what we are doing here,” she said.

So far, the team has had a particularly successful preseason, placing third in the Marin Catholic Lady Classic tournament and finishing second in the Piedmont Paris Twins Classic.

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