Of all the sports teams and programs this year, girls basketball has seen the greatest changes and improvements above any other. In the past, this program has been average in their performance and standings, but with a new coaching staff, the team is focused on the three R’s: revamping, reputation, and rebuilding.
Coach Vickie Carrington, previously the head coach at Horizon Christian, was hired this year as athletic director and coach, bringing with her a wave of ten new players. With such an addition, as well as three returning, full-time Varsity players, the girls started their year with a bang. Considering the drastic change in the roster, staff, and overall dynamic, Coach Carrington began the revamping of this basketball program. In pre-season, this talented team won their first tournament in over ten years, taking home the first place trophy in the Finest City Showcase. Only a few weeks later, the program added another achievement to their resume by winning four games in the San Diego’s Top 10 Tournament at Sweetwater High School and losing the championship game to Division 1 Cathedral Catholic High School by two points in overtime.
When the season truly began, the team faced the setback of losing five players due to CIF rules, regulations, and mandated sit-outs. What could’ve been a major loss, became a major lesson for the now smaller, but fully determined team. In just the third game, the Lady Patriots managed a huge victory over the highly ranked, Division 1 Torrey Pines with the final score of 61-52. In addition to this long list, the girls took home the trophy at the four-game Maranatha Classic Tournament. Despite the program’s uneventful past, the team slipped their way into the renowned and elite-level Nike Tournament of Champions, a five-day showcase in Phoenix, AZ, for the top 90 high school teams in America. Though they experienced some loss over the course of the week, they encountered vast exposure and took advantage of the time to grow closer to one another and the coaching staff. Coach Carrington is contributing all of her efforts into restoring a reputation for the team, much like that of the 1990s when the program saw several state championships.
Considering their 13-4 in-state record, the external appearance of this group was only possible with the drastic internal changes that took place. Team captain and senior, Hayley Robinson, says, regarding the complete overhaul of girls basketball, “Our team dynamic has changed a bunch because it’s girls who have played a lot longer and love the game a lot more. It’s a lot more competitive and serious but at the same time I think it is a lot more fun, we are growing together, bonding, and becoming closer as a family… It’s actually kind of good, because last year we had a tough season so it’s nice to have a fresh start.”
Each year, Coach Carrington’s teams have adopted a word or phrase to encourage and reflect on and this season she didn’t fall short in her choosing. BLESSED, taken from the verse 2 Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work”, is packed with meaning for not only her, but the entire program. Regarding her decision, Coach Carrington says, “The Lord gave me that word, when he opened the door for me to one, be employed as associate athletic director and two, be the head coach. I know that my blessings come from the Lord and, for me, it was a blessing to then see the people that God brought here to be part of the program. The girls that stayed in the program from previous years were a blessing. There is no other word that could best describe what God is doing in our season. To me, the word was definitely ordained.” Coach Carrington has and will always be devoted to her girls and was rightfully acknowledged for this in 2016 when she received the California Model Coach Award from CIF. Though the program was in desperate need for change, she was concerned with more than just a ring but also the rebuilding of the program’s spiritual aspect. Allie Carreon, sophomore captain, speaks highly of her beloved coach, saying, “I love Coach Vickie, she’s honestly an amazing coach. She is always there to help you whenever you need her and has a good and loving heart. With the way she teaches basketball it’s not just on the court but off the court as well.”
The future for the Lady Patriots is bright, as the team is looking towards a probable League Championship. Simone James, optimistic and thrilled for where the team is headed, says, “I definitely see us going to CIF, definitely.” With the rest of the season underway, encouragement and support from everyone is important and highly valued for the girls!
By: Brittany Tate