Although Deerlake won the Middle School Girls Basketball 2A City Championship last month, the championship run required years of work. Three eighth graders, Madeline Penney #4, Lindsay Myrick #13, and Raven Hall #30, shared their team’s journey with Tallahassee Reports.
For most girls interested in basketball at Deerlake, playing begins in sixth grade on a “JV” team. JV girls get a chance to practice with the varsity but don’t dress out for games.
Team practices began early, 7 AM early. Lindsay Myrick says, “We’ve been trying to tell coach to change practice to the afternoon. He won’t, so we just keep doing it in the morning. But it’s worth it. I wake up at 6:30ish and pack my bag. But once you get there, you are awake.”
While early practices freed up afternoons, these girls were busy. Raven Hall says, “I do my homework on the way to the game.” Planning ahead with homework was one way this team stayed focus on the prize: a city championship.
Losing in last year’s championship game set the stage for this season. Looking back at last year’s championship, Raven says, “That was one game I was not focused. My head was everywhere.” Madeline Penney adds, “Me too.”
Another loss proved crucial to this team’s success. The three girls agreed that the defining moment of the season was losing early on to Nims who went on to win the 1A City Championship. “That was kind of a turning point. We had to pick it up,” says Lindsay.
But Deerlake was not all work no play. Madeline, whose favorite part of basketball is “everything,” says the season was “Fun.” Lindsay said the things she enjoyed the most were “just goofing around at practice. Focusing, but having fun at the same time. You’re trying to get that dub [win] but still having fun because friends are there.”
For Lindsay, the season was also stressful, saying “I feel like there was a lot more pressure since it was our eighth grade year. We weren’t going to have another chance. Last year was sad, but we knew we were going to have another chance.”
Each of these players has a story and inspiration for playing basketball.
Madeline says, “I started when I was five and played Upward on a team my dad coached.” For Raven, her inspiration for shooting three-pointers comes from Golden State Warrior, Stephen Curry. Raven, who is sporting Golden State Warriors socks with Curry’s face on them, says, “I love Stephen Curry.”
The team is complemented with co-coaches Alex Stemle, Deerlake Athletic Director, and Stacey Burch, a volunteer and former division one player. Raven says, “Coach Burch is the one that pushes you. She is a great coach.” Lindsay says, “Coach Stemle is good at dealing with us, especially if we lose our head, which happens to Raven and I a lot.”