Shooting for the score at the height of her career

Shooting for the stars


Photo by Bear Facts

Alice Farsalas, Staff Writer

 At over 6 feet tall, more than 9 inches above the average American woman, McKenna Zobel, senior basketball player, has stood out from the beginning.

“When I was little I was really tall and my parents wanted me to try basketball,” Zobel said. “At first I hated it because I fell on the court and started crying, but I kept going and ended up really liking it. This was because I was so much taller and good at it.”

Zobel started playing basketball “probably in kindergarten,” but admits that she does not remember the exact year because “it was forever ago.” She has been playing ever since “mostly just because of the team,” she says.

“They’re like my family. I’ve grown up playing with them in middle school, and, like I said, from kindergarten. We’ve just grown up together and we always have so much fun together it’s definitely a family atmosphere,” Zobel said about her teammates.

But she also credits her helpful coaches for being just as essential and important to creating the team family.

“The coach [Chris Bennett] is tough, but he’s definitely gotten better this year, I think. He’s just really tough on me as a player because he knows I can do better,” Zobel said, however added that “he’s definitely chilling out this year.”

Part of the shift in the coach-player dynamic, according to Zobel, may be due to herself as well.

“They haven’t changed, I kind of just changed by myself a little bit. From freshman to junior year I’ve struggled with them not understanding me. They’ve yelled at me all the time. But come to this year, it’s my last year, so I’m just going to have fun playing and just have fun with the team and hopefully we will win a couple games.”

Zobel’s attitude has not gone unnoticed by girls varsity basketball coach Chris Bennett, who names Zobel as one of his most valued players this year, saying she and senior Grace Kinsey have “worked extremely hard to improve their skills. They’re both team leaders.”

According to Bennett, a leader on his team must have not only a foundation of how to play the game, but she must also have great leadership skills to inspire her teammates. Although players’ goals are to win, the mindset they have is also critical to meeting their goals even if they go through losses. Bennett says both Zobel and Kinsey possess this mindset as four-year senior varsity basketball players.

“They lead by example in practice, and that translates to them being very good players out on the floor,” Bennett said. “Great players continuously show their teammates how to do things, like practicing hard and leading with their [direct] voice as well as their effort. As a coach, when kids give great effort, it makes you give great effort to do the best that you can for them.”

Along with practicing hard, the desire she has to give her best effort is what makes Zobel a standout player and off the court, too, according to her friends.

“[McKenna is] passionate, caring, positive, and motivated,” Laura Zborovsky, friend and senior, said. “As a friend, [she] always is positively encouraging people surrounding [her] to be happy with their own lives.”

But Zobel says that people don’t always see those characteristics about her because of how she looks.

“When I was little people would be afraid of me, just because I was tall,” Zobel said. “But my friends would be like, ‘yeah she looks scary until you meet her,’ just because I was so tall.”

Zobel,  however, encourages others not to be afraid to talk to her.

“If you need somebody to talk to, I will always be there to listen, even if I don’t know you. I will try to give my best advice. I’m a friendly person, so don’t be afraid of me. My height is… the only scary thing about me.”