The seventh grade dream

The girls varsity basketball team raises their OK-White trophy. Lady Wildcats won the conference after beating Forest Hills Northern in overtime. Photo courtesy of Tom Reynolds.

In 2013, my seventh grade basketball team finished with an overall record of 10-2. In eighth grade we finished with an 11-1 record. Since then, we have all dreamed about becoming champs in high school.

For a variety of reasons, during our freshman year of high school, we were all split up. Some of us played on the JV team while the rest played on the freshman team. We also gained two transfers; Zyan Tatum and Nicole Barto. It wasn’t until our junior year we were all on varsity.

“It was kind of scary because the team had been together for so long and I knew no one,” senior Nicole Barto said. “But everyone was very welcoming so it made it easier.”

During our junior year, the team consisted of eight juniors, one senior and one sophomore. We had a tough year competing against other teams with mostly seniors, but that only made us more excited for our senior year.

Besides having a rough season that year, we did everything we could to make the best of it. Including many team dinners and hangouts before games where we shared tons of laughs together. We grew closer, forming many new bonds.

The Northview varsity girls basketball team celebrates a 12-0 conference championship for the first time in 33 years. This has been their goal since seventh grade. Photo courtesy of Tom Reynolds.

The summer of our senior was a very hard summer physically. We trained day in and day out. Three days a week we had to wake up for 7:30 am speed and agility with basketball training right after, which went on week after week.

During the first official season practice the team was heart broken as we watched our starting small forward, Taylor Griffith, tear her ACL. She was out for her senior year, although it was a terrible predicament for her, she supported us in every way she could.

“It was and still is an indescribable feeling to have to sit and watch practices and games and know that you can’t be out there,” Griffith said.

We all knew we had to step up more without Griffith and so we did.

Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much, has been our team motto for my senior year.

The day before our first game, our point guard, Sydney Klekotka, rolled her ankle. Forcing me to move to the point guard position that I had never practiced. We lost that game to Rockford by seven.

This was our only loss for the season.

The winter weather caused us to have many snow days, cancelled games and practices. At one point we went one whole week without practicing. This was a long time to not see each other, but we reunited like we were never apart. We had to fight through all of those tough days which is something that brought us closer.

As the season went on our team synergy grew stronger each day. We learned to play for each other rather than for ourselves. We figured out each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Everyone played their individual roles in order to keep our team afloat. When one player was down the whole team was there to pick her up.

Ending our regular season 18-1 and going 12-0 in the conference was indescribable. It has never been done before at Northview. We won conference outright for the first time in 33 years.

It was truly our seventh grade dream.

Senior Sha’kyia Parker covers Hope Millers eyes to hold the tears back. They won 65-59. Photo courtesy of Tom Reynolds.

“It has been unbelievable,” Coach Rose Antrim said. “But these kids have worked for it. They have worked all summer long and really put the time in, conditioning, the weight room. They have done everything they possibly can to be successful.”

We became a family, more than just a team. That is what wins championships.