Girls basketball shoots for positivity

April Roccisano, Co-Editor-in-Chief

It’s official–West Milford girls will get their basketball season in 2021. They began January 11, a little later than usual, and with a shortened season, but at least the season is still happening in some capacity.

Last season ended with none of the teams having a winning record, however, the teams are looking forward to what is to come and are preparing for this upcoming season. Captains Alex Buonanno, Amanda Gerold, and Rory McCormick look at this season with positivity and the hopes of a winning record.

 McCormick is most looking forward to seeing her teammates and coaches again. She is ready to give the team her undivided attention and for a fun season. McCormick knows that under the circumstances of Covid-19, things will be different, however she is excited. Her proudest achievement is tying the school’s record for girls with the most 3’s in a game. She would describe last season as rewarding, exciting, and memorable.

 Gerold is most looking forward to playing basketball again and hanging out with the team. She loves the excitement that comes from playing games, and overall wants to have a fun season filled with enough passion to be successful. Her overall goal is to be able to play a full season, similar to the wish of many other players and coaches. Gerold does not want the basketball season to be cheated due to Covid-19, and hopes everyone stays safe and healthy so they can have a full season. Her proudest achievement is becoming a captain. She has made the most out of captains’ practices despite the restrictions, and is excited to take on a leadership role. Her three words to describe last season as exciting, fun, and constructive. 

Buonanno looks forward to being able to play this season, because last season she was unable to play due to an injury. She knows there is a lot of young talent and experience, and feels like the team is  ready for this season. Buonanno can offer her enthusiasm, and her desire to be there. She has high expectations for the younger players, and does not want to leave the program the way she found it. Her goal was to advance in the county tournament and states, however those events are not being held this year, so her new goal is to win as many games as possible. Her biggest achievement is Athlete of the Week her sophomore year, and going back-to-back in the winter holiday tournament. Buonanno would describe her last season as full of lessons, patience, and growing chips on her shoulder. This was due to her knee reconstruction surgery on her right knee. However, even with the ups and downs, Buonanno, along with her fellow captains, is prepared and excited for this 2021 basketball season. 

The coaches have similar opinions as the girls in regards to being excited for the season and having fun. Coach LaCroix is excited that the team this year will be very competitive, as the returning players are great. His coaching style is to be loud and enthusiastic, and to create an atmosphere where the girls feel comfortable and can be honest with one another. The biggest opponent this season will be Wayne Valley, the team that is defending county champion, though their entire season will be competitive. 

LaCroix believes the team’s weakness is their lack of height, however they make up for it in other ways, and their strengths are their leadership, experience, and talent the team has. His message to the girls is “toughness wins.” Whether it is physical or mental, the girls need to remain tough in order to compete well. 

The goal this year is for a winning season; the teams will play 15 games instead of 26 with no County or State tournaments. This gives the team the opportunity to grow and get better, while maintaining a winning record. The hardest part, LaCroix says, is the waiting game. Waiting to start the season, and waiting to see what is going to happen. 

Coach Grimshaw, the junior varsity coach, has the goal to keep the team healthy to play all fifteen games. She agrees with LaCroix with Wayne Hills and Wayne Valley being their toughest opponents. Grimshaw’s coaching style is to communicate a lot and keep her team positive and confident. She knows team chemistry has always been a great strength for the girls, and acknowledges that the lack of confidence some players have shown is a weakness, which she plans on improving as a goal for the season. The message to her girls would be “I am so happy this season is happening. I’m excited to work with each of you every day and can not wait to see what we can accomplish this year.” 

Grimshaw loves spending time with the players and pumping them up as a pre-game ritual. She loves seeing the girls grow as players will continue to teach them hard work, determination, and mental toughness. Although adjusting to the new Covid-19 protocols may be hard for everyone, Grimshaw has faith in her players that they will overcome the obstacle and have a great season. 

Coach Milko, the freshman coach, is prepared for the season to begin. The start of the season is the best part for him, with the hardest being the ending. His goal for this season is to get the best out of his team. He has a unique coaching style, which involves lots of yelling and noise, but also includes dedication to his players and knowledge of the game. It is very rare one meets a player who does not like Milko, as he is loved by his team, including this year to all previous years. The toughest opponents for the freshman will be Wayne Valley and Indian Hills. Milko knows the strongest part of his team is the experience they already have from playing years prior, and he allows no weaknesses. Milko’s message to his players is to give everything they have. The great thing about being a freshman coach is that you can see vast improvements from the beginning of the season to the end of the season. He especially loves winning against very difficult opponents. Milko has a pre-game ritual of making his players laugh, which stimulates positive emotions and a readiness to play. He wants to teach the players never to give up, no matters the circumstances. 

Both captains and coaches are excited and ready for this basketball season to begin. Unfortunately fans are not allowed in attendance, however, games can be live-streamed, which still shows support to the players. These three teams seem to be prepared and ready to go, with inspirational captains, and strong leaders as coaches.