Should all teams host a JV squad?

Elaynah Jamal and Bridget Kane

When the girl’s varsity basketball team had its first tryouts in the winter of 2013, the turnout of freshmen and sophomores was measly. That season of girls basketball was particularly special because it was head coach Kamau Bailey’s frst year. Along with a new coach, the oldest girls on the team – current seniors, Isabel Meyercord, Helen Healey, and Jacquelyn Hart – had to step up and act as leaders and captains for the young team.

“Our team was very, very new to basketball and we had a lot of work to do. But we practiced hard every day and grew together,” said Healey. “I felt our team had potential and I think we are living up to it now.”

Their season really reflected the kind of team they were: young, but with budding chemistry. Their game-winning record also reflected this, with fewer than five wins. However, the team was bolstered by a much needed addition of players in the 2014-2015 season, the new freshmen proved vital to the success of the team. Their season was much improved compared to their fresh start from the previous year, but the team did not develop their full chemistry until the end of the year, when they fnally found their groove.

The girls basketball team started the season this year with a great bond, and has done much better than in the previous two seasons. The combination of the players’ hard work and team chemistry has led to many victories this season. Possibly the most “underdog” team in the Upper School, the girls basketball team has proved that time and hard work does pay off. The team may even be on the path to winning a few championships and tournaments, like the many other revered girls teams – such as the girls soccer team, lacrosse team, and tennis team. However, despite its recent success, they do not have a junior varsity team. Indeed, with so many excellent and growing athletic programs for girls, a obvious question is: why are there so few female junior varsity teams in PDS?

There are a disproportionate number of boys compared to girls playing sports in the Upper School. Boys soccer this past season for example, had two junior-varsity teams, while the girls soccer team, which has won numerous championships in the most recent years, lacked a JV. With the addition of a JV team, varsity coaches can know what to expect in numbers for the future because of those athletes’ commitments to the program.

One of the main purposes of a JV experience is to enable more inexperienced players to grow as athletes. However, senior soccer and basketball captain Isabel Meyercord provided a different perspective on the shortage of JV teams. “It is beneficial for the players coming who would normally be on JV because they get to practice with the varsity players and it pushes them to push themselves harder and pushes them to perform at the same level as everyone around them,” she said.

The aim for junior varsity teams is to allow players to work hard in practices and games to improve their abilities. But while underclassman players who are still developing would have more of a chance to play than they would in a varsity setting, they would not have the experience of playing with older athletes.

Even though the Panther girls basketball program’s future is uncertain, the present season has shown the true spirit and culture of the girls. The team’s growth in the past three years has established a new image for girls basketball. Hope springs eternal for the future of PDS JV girl athletics programs.

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