High School Hoops Blog
Getting serious about the game
Hi, my name is Katie. I am 14 (almost 15) and a sophomore at Ithaca High
School, where I play basketball from November through March. After that I play
AAU on a team called the Elmira Lady Express. We play from March to July,
ending our season at U.S. Junior Nationals. I have been playing basketball
since I was in third grade, and I have improved so much since then. I also
play volleyball for Ithaca High School with a ton of my friends.
When I decided to play basketball in third grade, I was really not that good.
I was too nice and too slow, and I really didn't care that much. I'm pretty
sure that the girls I played with didn't care that much either. I just played
to have fun, which was perfectly fine. That summer, my best friend and I went
to the Cornell Basketball Camp where we learned a ton. Going back to
basketball that winter, I was much better. According to my parents, I stole a
ton of the passes and scored a lot of points (I think they were just saying
that). I had so much fun that year and we actually started winning games!
That's when I knew that basketball was a sport that I would play for a very
Heading into middle school in sixth grade, I was too young to play on a school
team and my parents and I were worried about where I could play. I met one of
the P.E. teachers who also happened to be my coach the next couple of years.
That year, I was invited to play AAU (which I had not heard of until then) with
a whole bunch of older eighth graders, all of whom were so good! I was really
excited and nervous, especially because I didn't really know a lot of them and
they were a lot older than me. They were also a lot better than I was and that
helped me improve. Playing AAU with them was so much fun and that was one of
the years where I think I improved the most.
Going into seventh grade I was finally able to play on the modified basketball
team. I made modified, but was put on the team I didn't want to be on (it
wasn't the team with my AAU coach). But, that year was really fun to finally
be able to play for my school. When it came to AAU season, I was on a team
with girls a little closer to my age. That season was not very good. I loved
my coaches and my teammates, but we didn't really improve much as a team. The
club that year was pretty unorganized, even though I had two really great
coaches, one of which is still one of my really good friends.
In eighth grade, I decided to try out for the JV team. Making that team as an
eighth grader made me really happy. I was one of three eighth graders who made
the team, and that year made me a much more competitive player. We had a
really fun season and I learned what it was like to be committed to a team. We
had to drive across town every night right at dinnertime, and family dinners
were non-existent during the season.
Towards the end of the JV season, I met a man named John Harris. He told me
that he had seen a few of my games and he really liked how I played. He gave
my dad his card and told us that he would really liked it if I came to play for
him during the AAU season. I was flattered, but had some serious decisions to
First off, the team was in Elmira, which was a 45-minute drive from my house
going to practice twice or three times a week. Also, we weren't sure if there
even was going to be a team in Ithaca, but once we did I knew that my whole JV
team was counting on me to play with them during the AAU season. The girls on
the new team were all from different towns, and none of us knew each other. It
would be the hardest decision I had to make regarding basketball.
So, I decided to play for Elmira because the competition was more of a
challenge, which I thought would make me better. I also went there because the
traveling was further (which would be really fun I thought) and I wanted to be
scouted for playing basketball in college. We also were not sure if there was
a definite team here in Ithaca, especially for my age group.
At first, I thought I had made the wrong decision. My basketball friends in
Ithaca seemed to hate me, and no one on this new team knew each other. Plus,
my coach was rumored to be really harsh and mean. But soon, I started getting
more comfortable with my new team. As we got to know each other, we started
winning more games, and eventually tournaments. By the end of the season I had
made some really great new friends and my coach was actually a really good one
who just happened to be loud (not too mean).
Then, before I knew it, I was a freshman in high school. The transition was
scary at first, but I met some new people and eventually started to get
comfortable (kind of like my new AAU team). I started out the fall doing a
different sport, volleyball. It was a load of fun and I actually met one my
best friends while playing volleyball. Our team was not the best, but we
really enjoyed what we did, which was the best part.
Once volleyball ended and basketball started, I decided to try out for the
varsity squad. I wasn't sure if I would make it because I was just a freshman,
but I was confident in how much I had improved and decided to try it anyway. I
made the team with another freshman who I had played with on JV the year
before. The girls from the varsity team were many of the same I had played
with on my first AAU team-the ones who had helped me improve much when I was in
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