“Basketball is a complex dance that requires shifting from one objective to another at lightning speed. To excel, you need to act with a clear mind and be totally focused.” – Phil Jackson
In just her 2nd year playing ball, Payton has become an outstanding basketball player. She is our 6th man, spot starter, and 4th leading scorer. Payton is also the youngest of 4 kids. I’ve coached them all, and I’m convinced she’s the toughest. Considering her sister survives the grueling DGS marching band expectations (no joke – it’s intense), one brother is a hockey player an another was a high school soccer player, that’s impressive. She plays hurt, doesn’t make excuses, and never complains about anything – be it a bad call or her own mistakes.
I really appreciate Payton’s maturity and ability to ignore what’s happened prior to he current play. Perspective… It’s a remarkable sign of mental toughness that enables our team to be tough and not let teams go on long runs against us. She’s our leader in that respect., her elevation to key player is impressive. Payton is a major reason for our success this year. I cannot overstate the significance of her role on this team. The ability to focus on each play independent of the others is a tremendous attribute few players own.
Beyond that, I’m most impressed with Payton’s character. I believe players like Payton are the glue of a team. She’s not our leading scorer, rebounder, or best defender (though she has a remarkable knack for scoring from anywhere on the floor). But she’s dependable. She’s never bad. She always does something that impresses us when she plays. But, beyond that, she’s the kid holding us together.
After our heartbreaking, last-second, championship game loss to Jefferson in the Championship Game of the Westmont Rotary Club Tournament, Payton remarked: “I’m kind of glad we lost. I hugged people I never even talk to at school.” Even in defeat, Payton recognized how formative that defeat was. While in the short term it stung – a close call to a Burr Ridge team we’ve beaten by 20 twice came 2 days later – in the long term, it helped mold us. We realized the value of ball control, boxing out, and transition defense. But, we also realized the importance of each other. Payton is respected by her teammates as the best supporter and friend they could ask for. As dependable as she is on the floor, she’s crucial on the bench. She’s loud. She watches the game and learns from the bench. She helps you. She’s brought together pieces of this team in a way that it hadn’t been been before. Defeat hurts, but we learned. Payton taught us all that lesson.
Payton is a one of a kind kid. In the classroom, she’s creative, dedicated, and kind. On the court, she’s creative, dedicated, and kind. No, I’m not repeating myself. How often do you have a student-athlete you can say that about on both ends of the spectrum? That translates to success in skill development and an enlightened level of understanding how our team can succeed. This season wouldn’t be as fun or as successful without Payton. I’m so glad she’s not a very good cheerleader!