The Vashon High School girls’ basketball team is in the locker room before the game starts. Everyone is joking around and in good spirits, but when the coach comes in, it is time to get serious. There are no seniors to accompany the team onto the court this season, and much like last year, the girls have learned to play as the underdogs — a young team — and scrap for the win.
The varsity team is made up of six juniors, three sophomores and one freshman. The junior varsity team is made up of five sophomores and four freshmen.
Since there are so few upperclassmen, younger players, such as sophomores Ella Wheeler, Cara Snodgrass and Maggie Battisti along with freshman Tamsen Henry, have had the chance to move up into varsity positions.
Captains Ava Butler and Chloe Kuyper are juniors, which means they will have the unique opportunity to lead this team during both their junior and senior years.
“(Being captain) is the best,” Kuyper said. “I have been waiting for this my whole high school career.”
Butler and Kuyper were elected as captains at the beginning of the season. The role of captain is typically appointed to one or two seniors, but this duo is up to the challenge.
“I like being captain,” Butler said. “But it does come with a lot of responsibility and influence on the younger players.”
Butler, Kuyper and most of the team have played together since elementary school and as a result, have developed a strong bond over the years.
“We have a good sense of each other’s weaknesses and strengths,” Butler said. “It is not necessarily a challenge not having seniors (on the team because) a lot of younger players have (stepped) up.”
But, according to Butler, while many of the girls have played together for much of their lives, that doesn’t necessarily mean they always get along.
“There is always a little drama on the team between players, and it can get in the way of practicing or playing sometimes,” Butler said. “It is something we are working on as a team, and once all the initial kinks are worked out, our chemistry … will be much stronger.”
As of December 10, the team has played in five games, winning just one game 34-33 against Tenino High School. The team is ranked last out of five in the Nisqually League.
— Katherine Kelly is a VHS journalism student.