Photos by Madeline Michalowski ’22
The Staples girls’ basketball team is nine games into their winter season and has not yet lost a single one. While defeating strong competitors including Trumbull, Ludlowe and Danbury, the team has additionally maintained a close-knit community contributing to their many victories despite a modified season.
Due to divided practices and restrictions on fan attendance at games, the season could have easily led to frustration and separation among players, but with the help of the town’s support and the girl’s passion for the game, the team’s morale has remained a grounding constant on and off the court.
“Our team chemistry this year has been better than ever before,” varsity player Mckenzie Didio ’22 said when asked what has led to the team’s victories. “Every single person on our team plays a role in our success.”
Generosity and support from the town has contributed to this strong dynamic the entire girls’ basketball program has. On Feb. 26, the varsity and junior varsity teams came together in downtown Westport to decorate the storefront window of soon to be gelato and sorbet store Cold Fusion. With this space to be creative off the court, the girls painted their numbers and school colors in a vibrant and eye-catching way.
“Girls sports in general need a stronger voice,” Kelly Emmert, owner of the store, told WestportNews. “We want to see our window give them that bigger voice.”
The players greatly appreciated and enjoyed the event as it allowed them to connect with future teammates and peers.
“It meant a lot to all be together and celebrate our season as nothing about it has been normal this year,” co-captain Nicole Holmes ’21 said. “We haven’t been able to bond with the JV team like we usually get to, so seeing and talking with them was amazing knowing that the town supports us.”
This positive energy has allowed the Wreckers to come out on top against tough competitors like when they played Ludlowe on Feb. 23. The game took them into overtime and Staples was able to take home a 58-54 win.
In the past, the Staples community and large crowds at games have been a key motivator for the players, but this year each player is only allowed one parent in the stands.
“We don’t have those people in the stands to motivate us. It’s all gotta come from the 11 girls that step out on the court,” Didio said.
But even through all of the success, the pandemic has interrupted traditions and key memories for the girls.
“I miss having our friends and our parents in the stands, our locker room talks, the state championship and coming to school on game days all dressed up in logo wear,” Holmes said.