Unfortunately, freshman/sophomore teams at any school do not get much attention or the credit they deserve. Most of the attention goes to the Varsity programs, which is understood as they are the upper classman and usually have the most talent and exciting games. However, I think the freshman/sophomore teams deserves attention as well. I love coaching these group of girls. These are the girls that are trying something new, going out of their comfort zone, and trying a sport they want to play. And to me that is pretty dang exciting to watch as well. My group of girls this year was what I called a “group of misfits.” We started out the season with 11 girls, and 1 coach. Of these 11 girls, only two were experienced basketball players at the high school level, 4 girls were transfers from other schools with hardly any basketball experience, 3 were freshman girls from Bingham who still had some experience to gain, 2 had never played basketball before, with one of those girls getting cut at Bingham tryouts, but having the courage the come tryout again in high school. Looking at these girls, we didn’t look like we would win hardly any games. We were young, inexperienced, either really short or really tall, and haven’t played together before. I as their coach, had to be gone with the varsity and junior varsity a lot as well, so we needed someone else to help. That is when we added Coach Grubb to the group of misfits as well. He himself was a “misfit.” He was a tennis coach that no one knew and everyone thought that he didn’t know anything about basketball. I had never coached with him, but was excited to work with him. We also had big shoes to fill as the Freshman/Sophomore team last year went undefeated. So with 11 misfit players and 2 misfit coaches, we were definitely the underdogs, or as I like to think the young cubs.
At the beginning of the season, we definitely had some attitudes to work around. Some of the girls were not used to being coached, our style of coaching, or having practice every day. We had breakdowns, meltdowns, not showing up, and plain just bad attitudes. I knew many of these girls had potential to be better, and really find their inner athlete, but they needed to be reminded of that. I constantly reminded them that if the coaches push you, that is because we see potential in you, and want you to find that potential in yourself. I personally told them all that they are all strong, powerful, smart, beautiful, and potential women athletes, they just have to know how to use all of their skills. I told them I am that coach to go above and beyond for my athletes, but not for nothing in return. They work for me, I work for them. And they did. We went from coming out strong and winning our first game, losing two in a row by 3 points total, and then winning 13 games in a row. And let me tell you, every single game was definitely interesting to watch. In true Chrisman fashion, almost every game was a nail biter and came down to the very end.
My group of “misfits” making it to the championship game, for their last game of the season. As a coach I couldn’t sleep that night. I had been in this situation many times, with some of these same girls, and what felt like every game this season. But this was it. This was the last game of our season. We couldn’t have done better in the tournament! It may sound cliché but I didn’t care what the score was going to be, because I was already so dang proud of these girls. We had come so far. I started out with girls, and they became women. I started out with girls on a beaten path, not knowing which direction to take, and they found their way. I started out with children and we became a family. To make a long story short we ended up coming up short in the championship game and losing 24-20. It was not a fair game, there was 3 technicals called on us, none on them, it was the home team’s tournament, they had tall strong girls, and the referees were not on our side. But I didn’t care because we played well. Yes, we could have done better, and we should have done better, but I didn’t see the score, I seen my girls.
No we didn’t win the Championship game. But we did end with a season of 14-3. The three games we did lose, we lost by a total of 7 points. There were games that we should have lost and we didn’t, and games we should have won, but we didn’t. My little group of “misfits” stayed misfits, but used their misfit power (if you want to call it that) to become a strength. We were the underdogs, the ones no one cared about, the inexperienced, and the bottom of the totem pole. But overcame it all and ended up having an AMAZING SEASON. So I mean it when I say I could care less about the score at the end of the championship game. We didn’t lose that game, circumstances out of our control lost that game. What I had in front of me was a group of winners. My little cubs became bears. Strong, independent, fearless, smart, overcome the obstacles, ready to take on the world bears. And I as their Mama Bear will never leave their side.
There is no greater love I have in this world, than the love for coaching. It is the only job that makes you want to quit, yet do for free at the same time. It makes me get less sleep, more stressed, grey hairs, high heartrate, and permanent dark circles under my eyes. But it also gives me the most amazing memories, relationships, and family I could ever dream of. People ask why I don’t have kids yet, and I always respond what are you talking about? I have lots of kids. This season, these are my 11 kids. And I am so dang proud of my kids. From little cubs to strong bears they are my world for at least four years, and hopefully a lifetime. So for the last time this season Go Bears! And congrats on a 14-3 season!
–Coach Jessie Stout