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WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

Coach Coward and the captains prepare for the Girls’ Basketball preseason

Nihal Mark
The girls huddle during a tournament that took place over the weekend (not the official team)

As winter rolls around once again at Westford Academy, so does basketball season, and head coach Russell Coward has to take on the task of choosing his team for the girls’ basketball season of 2023-2024. Players are brushing off their skills, and their hopes are high for making the team.

This will be Coward’s 16th season as the varsity coach. He coached junior varsity (JV) for two years before he started varsity, and before that he had coached both the girls’ and boys’ volleyball teams. Coward has seen WA’s team through many ups and downs. This year’s captains are seniors Abby Baker, Molly Harding, and Samantha Reddington.

“Our goal is to always make the state tournament, along with improving during the season obviously,” Coward said. 

Looking back on last year’s season, Coward was not happy with their performance, or the way he coached. He felt that while the girls put in a lot of effort, they focused too much on bigger picture team skills, rather than refining basic skills.

Coward explained there are three levels of skill work. There is individual, five on five, and short half court, which would be two on two and three on three player work. Coward thinks that this year it would be beneficial to do more individual, two on two, and three on three work.

According to Coward, the team’s chemistry last season was great. Their offensive skills, however, weren’t the best, which had a lot to do with the fact that they had many new players. 

“Last season was the worst season we’ve had. So I really took a look at myself and what we did and thought about how I need to be a better coach,” Coward said. 

As it’s still the preseason, the teams have not been formed yet, but tryouts are coming up.  When it comes down to it, the difference between a player who makes the team and one who does not is their skill level.  Some advice that Coward has for players trying out this year is to be in shape, and play hard, especially in defense. According to Coward, players that would catch his eye are ones that rebound, make the extra pass on offense, and cheer for their teammates.

All three of the captains this year demonstrate these attributes and are described by Coward as  hard working and dedicated to the program.

“They kind of cover the whole spectrum of playing time. They attend and support everybody and all our off-season activities,” Coward said. “They really just embody what it means to be a varsity athlete.”

One of Coward’s goals this year is to find balance between how he and the captains coach the team. Coward described his job as to point out how the team needs to improve, and the captains’ job to bring everybody together.

Senior captain Abby Baker also shared her thoughts on this year’s preseason. 

Abby Baker looks forward to the 2023-2024 sports season. (Ellie Lawrance)

“We’re focusing on different players sticking up and practicing hard, and to make [the environment] more like a team instead of one individual,” Baker said. 

Baker described last season as a “building season”, allowing them to make the team stronger this year. 

“So for me, I think I did pretty well but also can improve this year,” Baker said. “As a team I think we did okay, but it’s going to be hard to bounce back with the loss of [former varsity player] Alana Saunders.”

The team captains are not a part of the team selection process, as it is left up to the coaches. Baker did, however, speak on what qualities she would like to see in new players. In terms of preparation, Baker thinks fitness level is a very important factor, along with shooting accuracy. 

“It’s mostly like hard work, and effort that shows 100% at every practice and game, communication with the captains and coaches is also important,” Baker said.  

Baker thinks some of the biggest qualities a captain should have are listening, and being a bridge between the team and the coach if there are any concerns of the players.

“I need to be able to fix those [situations] and intervene in those situations. So I’m pretty good at that, I’m a good listener,” Baker said.

Coward and Baker both encourage everyone to come watch the team play this season.

“I guarantee you that we will play very hard, and will keep you interested,” Coward said.

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About the Contributors
Ellie Lawrance
Ellie Lawrance, Staff Writer
Hi, I’m Ellie Lawrance and I’m a sophomore staff writer for the WA Ghostwriter. This is my first year of working on the Ghostwriter and I’m so excited to start. I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing which is part of what inspired me to join. I have a dog named Guvnor, and my favorite place is my cape house in North Truro where I visit with my friends. Some of my hobbies include playing volleyball, hanging out with my friends, reading, and listening to music. I have always enjoyed school and working with others, so I am so happy to be able to be a part of this team. I can’t wait to get started!
Nihal Mark
Nihal Mark, Staff Writer
Hey my name is Nihal Mark, I'm a junior at WA and this is my first year on the Ghostwriter. Some things I enjoy doing are playing soccer, hanging out with friends, and traveling. In the summer, I like going to the cape with friends and also playing soccer overseas with academies. The winter for me is preseason for my club season. Last summer I toured colleges and got invited to play in Portugal. I can’t wait to start journalism!

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