She shoots, she scores


Photo by and used with permission of Erin Stewart.

Erin Stewart, junior, dribbles the ball up the court in hopes of getting a basket. Stewart has been playing basketball since she was very young, and continues to strive to be better.

Everyone has that one thing that makes them unique or truly themselves. Whether it be s a sport, hobby, or interesting ritual,  that one thing is something that person cannot live without. For Erin Stewart, junior, that one thing is basketball.

She dedicated a lot of her childhood to basketball, playing the sport on teams and at home. This time she put into her sport paid off when she made the varsity team as a freshman.

“At first it was kind of nerve-racking and intimidating being one of the youngest and newest people on the team, but as the season went on I found my place on the team and I got more comfortable,” Stewart said. “It was super fun playing really good competition and playing at a faster pace. It was challenging at times, but it greatly improved me as a player and helped me get more prepared for later games.”

Despite those challenges, Stewart continued to put her hard work into the sport and got even better alongside her teammates, some of which she had been playing with since the beginning, who are “some of [her] best friends” and who motivate her.

“Seeing them working hard inspires me to do the same. We all push each other to do the best we can. It’s also very motivating when I work hard on something and then see the positive results of that hard work in the games,” Stewart said. “My travel [basketball] coach used to always use the analogy that practices are like your working hours where you put in all the hard work, and the games are like payday, where all that effort you put in pays off.”

Last season she even managed to advance in a difficult shooting contest against players from a lot of other schools.

“My greatest accomplishment would probably be making it to state for the three-point contest. My teammate, Baylie Parks, also made it to state, so Coach Bennett brought the whole team to State for an overnight trip to cheer us on,” Stewart said. “Even though we didn’t make it past the first round at State, the experience was really fun and our team had a great time.”

Even though she is able to love the team aspect of her sport and the people she has grown close to, Stewart says she is also able to appreciate the way it started.

“My dad and all of his siblings played basketball when they were young and his parents were both coaches, so he brought basketball into my life at a very young age,” Stewart said. “As soon as I could hold a ball, basketball became part of me.”

As Stewart grew older she dedicated hours and hours to arduous/vigorous practices until she became a better player, she said. When she was old enough, she began to play for the high school’s basketball program for upcoming students, called Junior Bears, which Stewart says also fostered great memories.

“My favorite memory relating to basketball was beating Grant in the championship of their own tournament for Junior Bears. Our team had fought hard and gave full effort the whole game even though the referees made some bad calls against us, and we ended up winning,” said Stewart. “My dad was our head coach and he was extremely proud of all of us. We had always been rivals with Grant, so this win meant a lot to us.”

That team was the start of her growing basketball career, and having her dad, the one who introduced her to the sport, as her coach was a unique but impactful experience that helped her growth as well, she said.

“Having my dad as a coach made me into a better player, because he always pushed me to work hard and do my best. Since he was always there for practices and games, he could keep me accountable to always give full effort,” Stewart said. “There were times where I didn’t like it because he was really hard on me, pushing me [to keep going] in practice when [I was tired], but I think in the end it was beneficial because it made me tougher [as a player].”

All of the aspects of her sport have made her who she is as a person, and gave her a lot of positive things: through basketball, Stewart says she has made good friends, and learned life skills and the importance of continuing to work hard.

“Playing basketball has taught me many life skills like time management, work ethic, teamwork, how to overcome obstacles, how to learn from mistakes, how to take constructive criticism, and much more,” Stewart said. “I think all of these skills will help me greatly in college and [for] the rest of my life.”