Girls basketball team travels to University of Minnesota, seeks inspiration

Our very own Hylanders girls’ varsity basketball team has begun their 2021-22 season! They are taking time out of their days to practice, work together and make a good impression on and off the court. While these Hylanders have had three games so far, against Hastings, Minneapolis North and Minneapolis Roosevelt, and sadly haven’t won yet, many of the players have still managed to show incredible athletic skills—plus, they’ve bonded in ways that matter more than a score ever could. Recently, the team took a trip to go watch the University of Minnesota women’s basketball team play and were inspired by the Gophers’ performance. The Heights Herald got the chance to sit down with a couple of players to catch up with their progress and what’s still in store for the season.

What strengths do you believe one should possess to be a successful athlete?

Coach Carol Peterka: Athleticism, dedication and the ability to work well as a team player.

Lilah Bergan (11): Some strengths I believe a [successful] athlete has is communication, leadership skills, encouraging one another and effort put into their sport.

Kalise Lewis (9):  A few things I believe you need to have to be a successful athlete are commitment, confidence, and communication. These help build who you are not only on the court but as a person as well.

How does this season compare to your previous one?

Peterka: This year we have a young group of athletes, [which is an] upside. The majority of our players show dedication and determination in wanting to improve and get better daily. If we keep putting in the work, we’ll keep showing growth as a team.

Bergan: This season for girls’ basketball is a little harder as we have a smaller team. Though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing because many of us will get more reps, it also makes us very tired and is kind [of] overwhelming. Hopefully, we will be able to adapt to this season’s smaller group and come together to just play the game.

Lewis: This season has been a little hard with the low numbers we have on our team but I think eventually this will pay off and make us stronger and more consistent in the future.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received from a coach?

Peterka: Fail forward! Success is not final, failure is not fatal—it’s the courage to continue that counts! If you’re not failing, you’re not trying. Never be afraid to fail. It’s part of life.

Bergan: The best piece of advice a coach has given me is to play my game and have fun. Tune out all of the other things going on in your life and play to [the best of] your ability. 

Kalise: The best advice a coach has given me is that doing the smaller things makes more of an impact on the game than you think.

What did you take away from your field trip at the U of M women’s basketball game?

Peterka: That the girls really enjoyed being around each other off the court. Personalities surfaced in a different light. We had a great time!

Bergan: What I took away from the U of M game was how well they work together as a team—it’s more like a unit and they flow through the game. Another great point is how well they cheer for each other and lift one another up even when they fall apart.

Lewis: Something I took away from the U of M game is that they made mistakes, but they shook it off and learned from it. 

Did watching the college basketball team play motivate you in any way?

Peterka: Playing sports is not always about winning and losing—it’s what goes on in-between that counts. Giving the girls the opportunity to attend the U of M game [with] the great seats that we had was a great experience.

Bergan: The college game really motivated me to do better with my team and bring pieces of their game to mine—using those takeaways and implementing them into my game

Lewis: Watching the U of M game did motivate me. Knowing that I am shorter than most college athletes is unmotivating and seeing other people my height succeed made me realize I can too.

What are your goals for this season?

Peterka: To win at least one more game than we did last year. To attend at least one collegiate women’s basketball game. To build team cohesiveness by participating in an overnight trip during a basketball tournament.

Bergan: My goals over the season [are] to grow closer as a team so we can succeed better and really focus on our individuality to bring us together as a whole.

Lewis: My goals for this season are to stay positive and improve, not only individually but as a team as well.

The girls’ varsity basketball team will go up against Mound Westonka and New Ulm tomorrow, Tuesday, December 21 and Wednesday, December 22 at Mound Westonka High School. Games are at 7:30 p.m. and 5:15 p.m respectively.