The ADSS senior girls basketball have been playing together in different variations for three years, said their coach Greg Freethy.
The team is stacked with 11 players: two Grade 12s, including the tallest of the group, who get lots of rebounds, said Freethy, adding that there are six Grade 11 players and three Grade 10s.
“It feels really good to be able to look down the bench and know that all those girls can come in and do some really good things,” said Freethy.
Though playing competitively is important to Freethy and the team, having a good attitude and playing the best they can throughout their games is where their focus is at going into this upcoming Totem tournament.
“I hope we can carry out a good attitude the whole game,” said Jaiden Knighton, a Ditidaht and Ahousaht player on the senior girls team. “I want us to all know that it’s going to be a good time and it’s nothing serious.”
“We’re just here to have a good time, have fun, and it’s to bring everyone from band, basketball, athletics, dance, cheer; bring them all together, and show just how we are all one as Armada,” added Knighton. “I’m really excited to play with the girls I’ve been playing with for a really long time.”
“I’m really looking forward to the crowds and just that feeling of… excitement and nervousness, that everyone’s here, everyone’s watching, but everyone’s here on your side,” said Knighton. “There’s no one here booing you, there’s no one here wanting you to lose.”
For Mary Robinson and Hayleigh Watts, both of Tseshaht First Nation, this will be their first year playing in Totem. They shared that they are hoping for first or second in the tournament.
“I’m really excited,” said Watts. “[T]he excitement that the whole gym has when we start, the energy is just up, [and] I’m excited for us to win games.”
“[I’m] excited to win this thing,” said Knighton.
Both Robinson and Watts have been preparing for the upcoming tournament by working on plays as a team and shooting on their own time.
Coach Freethy shared that the girls play a strong defense, which has been a key component that took them to sixth place on the island as a junior team in past years.
“This year, we’ve been putting in a new offense, so that’s been taking a lot of our time and practice,” said Freethy. “Hopefully it’ll be looking sharp by the time we get to Totem.”
But since it’s so early in the season, Freethy shared that they don’t know much about the other competing teams.
“We’re just more focused on what we do and trying to be the best version of ourselves,” said Freethy. “I just want us to play to our best, just whatever that is, on that day, and be competitive and give all our great community and fans and students that come out, just give them a good show and win or lose, let them know that we tried our best.”
By Alexandra Mehl, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter