Frontier girls basketball captains remaining optimistic

  • Frontier’s Rebecca Bridwell (21) fights for a rebound between Greenfield’s Kristina Reed (12) and Racquel Provost, right, during action last winter in Greenfield. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 1/19/2021 8:33:43 PM

Following the abbreviated fall sports season, Frontier Regional girls basketball captains Rebecca Bridwell, Amelia Sobieski and Kaitlyn Mackin came up with a plan to get their team ready for the upcoming season.

The trio created a Google Classroom that had a bunch of drills, ranging from shooting drills, ball handling drills and other basketball related exercises for other players on the team to practice at home, as practices as a team were prohibited during the offseason. The Classroom also had optional yoga videos for the players to follow to get in shape for the season. 

Players would complete their drills and post videos in the Classroom, a good way to connect and prepare in hopes that a season would happen. 

“I feel like we were a little more organized,” Sobieski said. “We set that up early on, right after fall sports ended. We said we have to prepare for whatever happens. We have to get into a basketball mindset. Having something to unite us, having everyone on one plattform and see they’re posting stuff, it was good to get everyone in the right mindset for the season.”

The Red Hawks were cleared to practice for the first time last Monday, and have taken to the hardwood every day but Sunday since then.

With a limited offseason for players that included not having summer leagues or fall captain’s practices, the online workouts allowed Frontier to hit the ground running.

“A lot of the girls did take advantage of those videos,” Bridwell said. “So far, the team has come together better than expected. It’s a really good team environment.”

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, the Red Hawks’ practices have consisted of a lot of non-contact drill work, as well as shooting, ball handling and footwork.

The players said the toughest protocol in place is having to wear a mask at all times, even while playing. It has made the first week-plus of conditioning extra difficult.

“We’re trying to get back into shape, get everyone running with a mask but also having fun with it,” Bridwell said. “Playing with a mask is certainly a challenge. Having to breathe through the mask, the air flow is obviously not as good. I would say as the week has gone on, I’m definitely getting more used to it, getting in shape and the conditioning with the mask is getting easier.”

To spice things up at practice, Patrick Garland and Ben Johnson — who are co-coaching the team this season — have the team scrimmaging against each other to end each week. The hope is simulating game situations will break up the repetitiveness of skills and drills work. Last Friday, Frontier players competed in five, four-minute quarters against each other,

For seniors like Bridwell, being able to get out of the house and play basketball with her teammates has been a great experience thus far. She credited the Frontier coaches for creating a great environment.

“They’ve really made the practices so much fun,” Bridwell said. “Especially being a senior and this being my last season, they’ve made it a great overall experience so far. It’s gone a lot better than we all expected.”

Unfortunately for Sobieski, her season was ended before it even started. A knee injury suffered in September required surgery, knocking her out for her final basketball season with the Red Hawks. 

Even though she’s unable to participate physically, she’s been active with the team, attending practices while serving as her teammates’ top supporter.

“I want to be there for all of them,” Sobieski said. “I stand on the side and make sure everyone’s doing well. Watching this week, the practices and performance has gotten better. We’ve come together more as a team.”

As it’s currently slated, Frontier is set to begin its game schedule next Tuesday, though the Deerfield Board of Health is expected to hold a meeting later this week to determine whether it will give its final recommendation for the programs to play games this winter.

Despite all the uncertainty around the season, the Red Hawks are continuing to prepare as if they will play, and enjoying every minute they’re able to get on the court together. The captains said the know it could be taken away at any moment.

“I think the whole team is hoping we’ll be able to play games,” Bridwell said. “If we get to play, it would be wonderful and very unexpected. It was a little frustrating not knowing what was going to happen and still not knowing. We’ve come together well and are supporting each other through this difficult thing. Just knowing we’re all supporting each other has made it easier to get through. We’re just taking everything one day at a time.”

If a season does happen it’ll be a condensed version of what it’s been in the past, with no Western Mass. or state tournaments at the end. Frontier qualified for the Western Mass. tournament a season ago, and with this being the final year for a run to the Cage for Sobieski and Bridwell, it’s disappointing not to have an end of season goal to work toward.

Still, they said they are remaining positive while trying to make the best of the situation.

“Everyone is thankful for everything we’ve gotten so far,” Sobieski said. “If this is what we get, we’re good with it and are going to make the best of it.”

“Each year for sports brings something different,” Bridwell added. “You always have more to offer. This year, everyone is just happy to be playing and together finally. We didn't know if that was even going to happen.”

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