Slam dunk of teamwork

Girls basketball team’s close bond creates great games


Photo by Photo use with permission of Eleni Papastratakos

The varsity girls basketball team stands in front of the chapel at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The team traveled there for their summer camp this past summer in order to practice and increase their skills together.

Chloe Faris, Co-Spotlight editor

These girls, some of whom have been playing for over 10 years, practice during the week after a long day of school, but still enjoy being able to play with their teammates.

Girls basketball is team full of close knit players who push each other to grow stronger, Eleni Papastratakos, senior varsity player, said.

“As a team, we have had different girls come and go, but we always stay close together, and the program as a whole all are close too,” Papastratakos said. “We do some practices when we have all levels [of teams] together and everyone knows everyone’s name and it is a super close program as a whole.”

Papastratakos attributes their close bond to the similar chemistry she and her teammates have, which in turn leads to a positive attitude on and off the court.

“No one is negative and we love boosting each other up,” Papastratakos said. “We also do a lot of team bonding activities. Just recently we went to a high ropes course in Wisconsin, and that really made us step out of our comfort zones, allowing us to gain further trust to our teammates.”

This high ropes course contained many intense activities, but the girls were able to pull through together.

“It took a lot of communication and perseverance as a team to get through [the courses],” Jacklyn Schlender, senior varsity player, said. “I think everyone felt a little nervous and intimidated by the high ropes course, but we conquered it as a team and everyone was really supportive to one another. It ended up being a lot of fun and it brought all of us closer together. I know I could rely on any of my teammates for anything.”

Along with relying on each other, the trust the players create through team bonding helps them perform better out on the court.

“As a team it’s cool because we play to each other’s strengths, we can pass the ball to our teammates before they even call for it because we know that’s where they’ll be,” Papastratakos said. “We have been playing together since we were little in the Junior Bears program [from] fourth grade until now, so we’ve really been able to adapt to each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”

Although Papastratakos has been out on injury due to tearing her ACL, she has found other ways to contribute to the team by supporting them at games and practices. In turn, her teammates have help her with her injury, she said.

“My teammates have been backing me up throughout my entire recovery from surgery [by] always picking me up,” Papastratakos said. “[They] are there fit me if I need to vent to people too since this long recovery process is hard mentally as well.”

“Teamwork is extremely important in basketball,” Schlender said. “When everyone is on the same page and working their hardest, we have fun and are successful in practice and games because everyone brings something to the table. Everyone plays a role to make the team the most successful.”

Through everyone knowing their role in the game, Schlender believes that her team resembles a family due to their close bond.

“My teammates are like a second family to me,” Schlender said. “My team is so close and we can all be ourselves around each other. After being together for four years, we truly have been through all the ups and downs together both inside and outside of basketball. This year it has been hard for us to get all the details right during our games in order to achieve our goals. There have been a few games where we were within just a couple points to get the win. It has been very frustrating for everyone, but we’ve really been pushing ourselves more at practice so we can win those close games. Our main goal is to win a conference championship, and we now know what we have to get done in order to do so. We are hoping to be successful and have an awesome final part of the season.”