During the offseason, it’s tough for high school teammates to connect with each other and grow as a team. The timing and other activities make it difficult.
But the Puyallup High girls basketball program found a way during the offseason. Ever since the Vikings suffer a 57-51 loss to Tahoma in the West Central District III playoffs, the younger girls have been on a mission: learn to work together.
“We were young last year … we’ll be young this year, with only three seniors,” Chloe Chiltcott said. “But the seniors, especially Hannah and Sophie (DeWitt), have stepped up as leaders.”
When a team that’s young loses what little leaders it has, it’s hard for a team to find an instant replacement.
It takes respect from both incoming and returning players to grasp that role of leadership. That’s exactly what Hannah and Sophie DeWitt earned this summer in organizing time for the team to come together and work on the little aspects of the game.
It’s about getting past those hiccups that plagued the young Vikings team last winter.
“Last year, we were a pretty young team, and many of us (didn’t) compete together,” Hannah DeWitt said. “It was a tough transition … last year and this summer we have learned to gel together and work together.”
Communication was the biggest issue last season, Hannah added, so it became the sole purpose of Puyallup to figure out a way to eliminate the issue.
It’s an easy solution, but hard to fix because of the amount of effort and time needed to solve the issue. Both of which may not always be there.
“It was an issue in year’s past,” Hannah said.
“Everyone is really close to each other on this team — we’re all friends outside of basketball,” Sophie added. “It’s easy to work through those problems when you get along with your team like we do.”
Last June, the Puyallup girls basketball team put that summer work to good use as the Vikings came away with a second-place finish at the Bonney Lake basketball tournament, and the girls finished third at a tournament in Enumclaw.
The positive results and overall improvement impressed Puyallup coach Cherokee Ainslie.
“With a young team, you don’t always get the consistent play you know as a coach they’re capable of playing to,” Ainslie said. “This team is still young, but they found a way to get on the same page with one another. That’s the kind of improvements a coach always wants.”
Now with their success in the summer behind them, and the start of the school year only a month away, time is ticking for the Vikings’ ultimate test.
Will Puyallup girls basketball be ready for SPSL play?
“I believe we can be better than we were last year,” Christina Holland said. “If someone messes up or something goes wrong, every girl will be right there to pick each other up … I think that will make us better because we believe in each other.”