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!