“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” – John Wooden
Our only 7th grade starter, Jen has been the glue for our main rotation all season. She’s probably the least-heralded of our starters, but she might also be the most important.
Jen’s career is not unlike anyone else’s on our team. She’s been involved since her 5th grade season, has exemplified dedication, and attended as many summer training sessions, on her own, as anyone. Even got a few double sessions in. Play on a travel team, attends Doug Bruno and does everything she can, on her own, to improve. She even took a “shooting strap” home with her to get that elbow in and learn to stop “thumbing” the ball. All this is not really unique to her, as so many on this team exemplify a culture of dedication (“Championship Atmosphere!”). But it’s how Jen plays separates her from the rest of our girls, even our great 8th graders.
Jen is our starting “post,” though she’s not really a true post. I don’t have any true posts. I have 5 globally skilled players that can do it all. This allows us to run a variety of sets and use the Read and React offense with a fair amount of success. But defensively is where Jen shines in the post. Her intelligence helps her understand positioning, helps her judge whether a pass requires her to close out, adjust to help side, or go for a steal. And her toughness has lead her to rebound well. She hunts from the backside of a 4-out offense, something which requires patience and savvy. There is no set pattern to our offense, but a set of reactions that requires intelligent and attentive players. Jen sets that tone on both ends of the floor.
Jen’s also a surprisingly strong leader for being an “underclassman” on the team. She’s vocal, she plays hurt, and makes adjustments during games. At Jefferson, with 2 starters out and being our biggest game of the year, Jen picked up 2 fouls in 20 seconds – to start the game. So out 3 starters now, Jen knows she has to come back in and defend perfectly. She almost does. Despite giving up a few buckets at the end, Jen had 6 blocks on a very good player, perhaps the best in our league, and finished the game with only 3 fouls.
Her success is a product of paying attention to the little things. Which foot she pushes off with. Disciplining herself to steal with the correct hand. And, as is the truth with all post players, keep your hands straight up. She doesn’t have size, but she has a willingness to do all the little things to be successful. It’s an incredible desire to be great.
This is also the kid that, after ISAT testing, sits at my computer and takes notes as she watches film. Other girls are reading, playing a game, or drawing something, but this girl comes up to me and asks if she can watch the video. I can’t speak enough to that kind of attention to detail and her success this season. The two are not unrelated.
Jen’s future is very bright. She’ll be the undisputed leader in every respect next season. A coach on the floor, if you will. She’ll probably play some point guard, if not take it over. But the example Jen sets with focusing on the little things is her biggest contribution to this team’s success, and the biggest indicator of how high her ceiling is.