“Never let inexperience get in the way of ambition.” – Terry Josephson
I wish there was a way to quantify Ewa’s impact on this team. Her ambition, however, is hard to measure.
Ewa (pronounced Ev-ah) is our only rookie. Considering the experience and skill level of her teammates, asking her to fit in was a tough proposition. We had to cut 12 girls that tried out, including one very difficult decision to part with a girl that had been involved with our program previously. So why keep her, a rookie? Because she’s an absolute monster.
Her physical strength, especially relative to her size, is crazy. By January a new verb, getting “Ewa-ed,” had been applied to when you weren’t paying attention and were taken out be her going for a loose ball, rebounding, or trying to steal from you. See, when she first started playing, she did what she could do best – be aggressive, be active, and be fearless. We didn’t even give her specific skill instruction at first, as to not overwhelm and over-complicate the game for her. She’s incredibly intelligent, but given how complex basketball gets at higher speeds, why limit her with too many options and ideas? Instead, she just “Ewa-ed” everyone. As the season progressed, she’s added more skill and developed her shot. Given her physical strength, the later was difficult to learn.
This a nice cute story about a bench player right? About the very good team that took on a friend and she got to go along for a ride, right? Wrong. Ewa is as big a factor in our success than anyone.
Having Mr. Little and all of us as coaches for 4 years might be a bit too much. I first coached these girls in 5th grade, when they came up for a Sunday League practice. While I constantly bring new ideas and evolve my teaching concepts, that’s still a long time to listen to one old guy. Things get stale, and my message becomes white noise. But Ewa changed that. She brought the same enthusiasm that these girls had 3+ years ago. Her competitiveness to win every drill and race (all of our pre-season practices are competitive and scored) raised the team’s intensity. Players couldn’t be outworked by a rookie, could they? She asked questions and worked her butt off, reminder her teammates what a good player does, and how far they’ve come, perhaps.
Ewa’s even earned playing time. She’s earned everyone’s trust be improving her skill to a level that, when on the floor, she’s not “good for a rookie,” but a part our team and our success. Nobody notices or grimaces when she plays. She’s become a part our family, but more importantly, raised our own expectations and aggressiveness.
Some schools get really talented players that move into their district. They score a lot and can shoot. But we got Ewa. We got Ewa-ed, actually. And I think we’re a great team because of her.