Varsity women’s basketball welcomed six freshmen to its roster this year – Chloe Forsee, Emery McReynolds, Ava Marsh, Addison Simpson, Jayla Hawkins and Ainsley Kniker.
As a freshman playing against athletes who are older or committed to play in college, these five experience their fair share of pressure from coaches, teammates and peers in the student section.
Forsee and McReynolds, who were pulled up from JV at the end of February, mentioned being expected to learn new drills quickly and wanting to play well for the seniors. Most of the players are able to overcome this pressure, and some have even managed to put a positive spin on it.
“I haven’t felt as much pressure as much as it is, like, trying to prove myself. I’ve never really felt that much pressure because I know what I can do, it’s more showing the coaches that,” Hawkins said. The players appear confident in their abilities and try to improve their playing every day.
“There is definitely a lot of pressure because I’m always nervous, and I haven’t known the coaches for that long, but knowing that I’m good enough as a freshman means that I can only get better,” Kniker said.
Despite the pressure, these five have enjoyed their first high school basketball season.
“It’s been really amazing. All the girls are so nice, and it was a good way to, like, I don’t know, be introduced to the school,” Simpson said.
“It’s been a really fun environment, just like being new and I love all the girls on the team and it’s just really exciting,” Marsh said.
The team has gotten very close over the past season, and most of the freshmen seem to attribute the first time they experienced that to the Nixa tournament, the first travel tournament the team competed in this year.
“My favorite memory was probably when we went to Nixa, the out-of-town tournament. It was our first like traveling experience basically, and we all got really close then, and it was the first time we really got to hang out outside of basketball which was really fun,” Simpson said.
“I remember when we went away to the Nixa tournament, there was a prank going on, and I got splashed with water, and it’s not a great memory I remember, but it’s really funny,” Kniker reminisced.
The team has only grown closer since this tournament, and the freshmen have really come to see all of the seniors as mentors and role models, as well as teammates and friends.
“They really led us and made us all a family,” Simpson explained.
“They’re just really good role models, and I look up to them,” Marsh said.
“The seniors are definitely the most motivated to win State and go super far, so they want to help all the underclassmen and get everyone involved to get as good as they can to get up to state,” McReynolds said.
Hawkins specifically mentioned senior Jenna Clark. “She’s just a really good teammate when it comes to, like, on and off the court, too. Her work ethic is really good, she’s a good student and everything, she just is a really good mentor and holds you accountable for stuff,” Hawkins said.
The season isn’t over yet though, as Webster Groves won the District championship Saturday, March 5, against Lift for Life. Forsee, McReynolds and Hawkins said this was their favorite memory so far.
“ it was just like a great atmosphere to be in, and it was an intense game, but it was just like so fun, and we won and everybody was happy,” Forsee said.
The team will go on to play for the State title now, facing off against Notre Dame (Cape Girardeau) on Saturday, March 12, at 1 p.m.
“I’m also excited to get there and know that we are a really good team that could possibly – will hopefully – win State,” Kniker said.
This will be Emily Goben’s first year on ECHO staff, but she made several contributions while taking journalism class her sophomore year.