2013 Varsity: Olivia


Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better. – Pat Riley

Olivia has played in our program for 4 years. Beginning as a 5th grader, she’s played in our Sunday League, in summer leagues at Lemont and Providence, attended a clinic with Brian McCormick, and has been one of our more reliable and dedicated players for those years. She and her twin sister, Allie, have been synonymous with Spartan Basketball for a while.  The two of them were some of the most reliable players to attend summer training sessions. Like clockwork, 1:00 every Friday, I’d be racing into school after opening the pool, and the Toniettos would be racing down Plainfield to get to LV in time! Viva is also an example of how much our students do. While she’s dedicated herself to basketball, she’s also an accomplished dancer, softball player, and got talked into cheer this year, too. Olivia is an impressive young woman.

Olivia comes off the bench for us as a 2-guard. While she’s not a big scorer, Olivia has found a niche on our team as a tremendous leader, passer, and on-floor communicator. I think a lot of coaches would pass her up because she’s unable to create a shot for herself and isn’t tall. But I can’t. Viva is that kid who sees passing lanes teammates don’t. She picks up her teammates on the floor when they’ve missed a few shots. She hits the floor for loose balls. And, man, does she have a sick 10-12 foot jumper! A benefit of having some immensely talented players on the floor is being left wide open. A few other girls have not taken advantage, but Olivia has learned her strength within our offense and when the right time to attack is. She won’t beat anyone to the basket, but she’ll make some fantastic passes, won’t turn the ball over very often, and punishes defenses for going box-and-1 or overplaying her teammates.


I’m going to miss Olivia’s attitude as much as her presence. When other teammates get goofy and waste time, she’s on the floor shooting. She’s getting mad at misses, and going for 5 in a row, 10 in a row… looking for perfection. She has an innate desire to be as good as she can possibly be. This might translate into some anger, but ultimately has transformed a shy, small girl into an aggressive, confident basketball player. I’ll be telling stories about Olivia (and this group) for a while, including about how, last fall, when all of them skipped a dance to come play basketball. You don’t beat teams by 30 if you dance with the boys, I guess. And you don’t become a baller without making some sacrifices in the pursuit of greatness. Olivia has done just that, with tremendous success. Thanks for all of your dedication, Viva!


Reflecting on My Girls: Varsity 2013

IMG_3603The end of this season marks the end of a special one. This season has been enjoyable and successful because we’re setting records, losing rarely, and beating teams by an average of 30 points. But it’s been special  because of the girls. They’ve been involved in our program like no other group has. They’ve played Sunday League since 5th grade. Have been attending open gyms, individual training, and clinicians. They’ve played on our school team for 1,2 or 3 years. And they even did their own fundraiser for sweet new uniforms. This group has been special because nobody has shown the level of dedication to this program, their coaches, and each other quite like they have.

Teaching and coaching in this district has it’s challenges. 4 of the other 10 schools are bigger than us. Sports are not the number 1 priority (our kids are well-balanced and involved in many things, including being successful in school). And there is no strong feeder or travel program in the area. One player travels 20-25 minutes from home to play for a good travel team year round.

But what this group of girls has is dedication. They have desire. They really want to be good at basketball. And they have coaches that want to help them love this great game.

Instead of boring the crap out of everyone at the banquet by talking about them too long, I’ve decided to given them each their own space here. I can write as long as I want without worrying about a time limit. They deserve a little bit of public praise, so bring it. I have roughly 13 days left until our season and time with the girls is up. So, I’ll write a blog post about one of the girls every day. 2 of these girls are 7th graders, so they’ll be back, but 11 of them have only a few days left as a Spartan. For all they’ve done, the least I can do is a little shout-out and public pat on the back

What I Learned Today, 2/25/13

We learned about different presidents lives each president was assigned to a different group, I got Rutherford B. Hayes. His biggest achievement was extracting military occupation from the south. Today many groups started comic life, the others finished their 100 word bio.

What I Learned Today: 2/22/13

Today, we worked on our president projects. My partner and I looked up the life of the president that we were assigned  and make a comic life on that president.

Thanks, Brandon O.! Here’s a little more:

I shared with students a terrific example of a 100-word bio:

Barack Obama, the 44th president, and  is one of both the most polarizing and revolutionary presidents. Although his term is not over he has yet to address many of the nations top priorities, gun control and the nation’s debt. He has passed universal health care and passed a stimulus bill to jumpstart the economy. This democratic president who was born in Hawaii, is the first biracial president in US history. The congress he has been forced to work with has been divided and incredibly partisan. President Obama is still serving his second term and his effect on the country is still unclear.

We’re wrapping up our research, and will begin making visuals next week using Comic Life. Students are utilizing their reading strategies of reading with a question in mind, of finding accurate and useful information by using specific examples, and evaluating sources for authenticity and reliability. Yahoo Answers would fit none of those criteria!

What I Learned Today, 2/21/13

Today we are researching presidents in Social Studies class. My president was  Harry Truman and he said a lot of  important quotes. One of his quotes were “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.” I think this means that if other people want to copy you, let them and just let it go. Don’t care because in the long run they’ll feel guilty.