Recently, more than 60 members of the Pingry community, from all three divisions, gathered on Zoom for the school's first-ever HBCU alumni panel. Six Pingry graduates shared their experiences—here's what they had to say.
By Olivia Volpe '21, Hope Maultsby '21, and Claire Keller '21
This year has brought a lot of changes to how we go about our normal routines, and Pingry Girls' Basketball has certainly been no exception. With a much delayed season and shortened preseason, it became clear that we were going to have to capitalize on every moment, because the next may not be guaranteed. We instituted a set of COVID protocols: distancing whenever possible, contact tracing sensors worn around our ankles, and athletic masks, to name a few. Each one of these is just another measure we are taking to ensure we can maximize our time on the court.
Contact tracing has already proven to be a serious obstacle for our team and, while we are incredibly fortunate that everyone is healthy, we have yet to have our full team practicing together once this season. This is both frustrating and exciting—it is difficult to grow as a team when you are missing different key players every practice, but it also gives new players the opportunity to step into unforeseen roles. We have also seen it affect our opponents, as a few games have been cancelled due to their schools temporarily closing to try to stop a potential outbreak. These instances have only made us all the more grateful for the time we do get to spend together. Despite the masks, sensors, and social distancing, the few hours after school where we are able to get on the court and play basketball provides a sense of normalcy in an otherwise extremely abnormal year.
In addition to the changes the pandemic has brought to our season, it is also our first season playing under our new coaching staff: Coach Hoepfl, Coach Stephenson, and Coach Boccher, all three of whom are new to the team this year. We are really excited about the future of the program and have already learned countless new drills and game plans. Within the first week of practice, players were introduced to eight offensive plays, five inbound plays, a new defense, and two new press breaks. By any standards, this is a lot of material for players to learn in a week. However, with limited time before our first game, we had to adapt. There is an expectation that every player should be able to be thrown into any position and execute the play's intention. In order to meet this expectation, every player—from senior captains to incoming freshmen—has responded with enthusiasm and commitment, taking time out of their day to review our playbook and watch film.
Coach Hoepfl is putting down the roots towards the development of a long-term successful program; he works to push each and every girl on the team to their full potential, not just the starting five lineup. The JV and Varsity teams practice together, often playing in combined scrimmages and drills. The daily exposure to intense, high-level playing has helped the team to one of the most successful starts of a JV season in program history. They won their first game by over 20 points! The young, incoming talent is very promising for the future of our team, and also works to cultivate healthy intersquad competition during practice.
Although the varsity team has faced a few early losses, we are seeing broad improvements in team strategy, attitude, and work ethic after every game and practice. We believe our team will be solid contenders in our county tournament, which will take place from March 1–5. As captains of this team, we look to win as many games as possible this season, but we also look towards creating a lasting team culture that values discipline, accountability, and safety off of the court.
Contact: Andrea Dawson, Senior Writer, email@example.com