In late November, the Girls Varsity Basketball team was unsure if they would be successful this winter season. Over the past two years, the team has graduated many powerhouse players, including Sydney Lowery (‘17), McKenna Frank (‘18), and Maya Klein (‘18), all of whom are currently playing at the Division I level in college. These players certainly helped elevate GVBB to an elite level.
Hannah Amendola ‘19, a current varsity player, witnessed that growth, and commented, “When I first came on this team, we were really not very competitive. We could win games, but we didn’t have the same level of work ethic and dedication to the team – and the sport – that we have now, so I think that change is really cool to see.”
Even when the team had doubts about moving forward without their star players, head coach Matt Ward had complete trust that his team would push through adversity, mainly because of the six seniors on his roster – Hannah Amendola, Jada Boggs, Sydney Cummings, Tamia Fulton, Riley Page, and Sydney Napolitano.
“I came into this year thinking that with this group of seniors, they really have a chance to lead us. So far, they’ve done a really good job and I have a ton of confidence . . . that they’re going to continue to find new and creative ways to lead us, whether they’re on the court or off the court,” Coach Ward commented.
While it may seem daunting to lead the reinvented squad, the seniors have certainly been up to the challenge. The team is 18-1 this season and sits atop the FAA with a flawless 8-0 league record.
According to senior Riley Page, their impressive record was built by hard work and support from teammates. “[The team] has taught me so much about how to deal with adversity and about mental toughness. It’s the longest season and there’s a lot of times when you just want to give up and sit down, but you know that you can’t. Everyone’s always there just pushing you,” Page remarked.
The team’s strength was on full display during their Senior Day game on Tuesday. The team faced Rye Country Day School and dominated the match-up from tip-off to buzzer, ultimately walking away with a 69-33 victory.
The game was special not because of the victory, but because of the fellowship displayed throughout the afternoon. All six seniors were named starters for the match. During Miss Anna’s starting lineup announcement, they ran through a tunnel of teammates and executed elaborate handshakes with Sophie Kriftcher ‘20.
When asked about her team’s camaraderie, Tamia Fulton remarked, “I look at my teammates as family. No matter what happens, I always have their backs and I know they always have mine. They’re an amazing group of girls. “
One of Tuesday’s most special moments came when Sydney Napolitano, a senior who is playing with GVBB for the first time this season, managed to steal a ball from Rye and dribble all the way back to the SLS hoop for a layup. There is no doubt that the support she has felt from her teammates all year propelled her to make the play of the game.
“Coming into [the season] I didn’t really know what to expect. But [my teammates] all definitely welcomed me with open arms, and I had some of the best memories ever and made some of the closest friends that I’ve had in my high school experience, so I definitely enjoyed the season,” Napolitano commented.
But, as is the case with every Senior Day game, the day was bittersweet. Sydney Cummings and senior captain Jada Boggs both picked up on the sentimentality of the afternoon.
“[The team is] my family and we’re such a close-knit group,” Cummings said. “I’ll be reaching out to the seniors every day next year, I’ll be FaceTiming them, calling them, just because I miss their energy. That’s what I’m going to miss the most.”
When Boggs was interviewed by members of the Eye of the Storm club, she was intent on thanking her coach for his leadership over the past three years.
“I know Coach hasn’t been here for all five years that I’ve been here, but he’s…he’s the only one that matters,” Boggs said. “He’s helped me the most, to be the person that I want to be and be the captain and leader that I want to be. I’m so grateful for him and for everyone on the team.”