On Nov. 4, the fall sports season finally came to an end with the KAIAC fall tournaments, beginning the transition into the winter sports season. Tryouts for basketball and cheerleading began in late October, and coaches began their annual search for aspiring athletes demonstrating leadership skills, agility and positive attitudes throughout the tryouts process. Although the structure of the tryouts, as well as the routines and drills practiced, was similar to those of previous tryouts, there were some changes unique to this season’s tryouts: a higher number of participants and a new coach.
“Every tryout is nerve-racking,” said Asuka Kurebayashi (10), a former varsity basketball player. “It is very challenging to perform to the best of my ability consistently in the tense environment. In addition, the tryouts may vary every year, so we have to be prepared for new changes in coaching style and drills. However, the tryout period is also an exciting time because it is an opportunity to discover new, talented athletes who could be potential future teammates.”
Last year, less than 24 girls tried out for the junior varsity and varsity basketball teams combined. This year, the pool expanded to 34 participants, a stark contrast to the meager number of competitors from the previous year’s tryouts. Due to increased number of girls, as well as the increased level of talent possessed by the athletes, Chris Koester and Morgan Miller, varsity and JV girls basketball coaches respectively, had to compensate for the competitiveness of tryouts by making drastic cuts.
“A lot of girls signed up this year,” said Coach Koester, who is looking forward to this winter sports season. “We knew that some girls have previous experiences, but we had to evaluate incoming freshmen for how much they have grown over the summer. It was definitely hard for Coach Miller and I to choose the best players for both varsity girls and JV.”
Meanwhile, new cheerleading coach Dorothy Banas welcomed eager participants to this year’s winter sports tryouts as well. In contrast to previous years’ tryouts, in which enthusiasm and positive spirit were emphasized, Coach Banas prioritized the athletes’ gymnastic skills and ability. Therefore, participants were encouraged to show their athletic abilities, including cartwheels, front and side flips, and splits. In order to develop these skills, it was crucial for the girls to improve on three fundamental abilities: flexibility, strength, and balance.
“I practiced differently for this year’s tryouts,” said Angela Kim (10), a former member of the varsity cheer team. “Although facial expressions and enthusiasm are indeed important, I focused more on modifying and enhancing my posture, frequently checking if my jumps became higher and more accurate. In addition, I exercised to improve my core strength and balance. Thus, I was able to carry the routines out without much difficulty.”