FAIRVIEW, Ala. — Last season was another solid one for the Fairview Lady Aggie basketball team as they finished with an 18-13 record. They clinched the runner-up spot in the area championship game and added another trip to Sub-Regionals to their resume. Emma Garcia is one of two returning seniors on the team and talked a little bit about last season and how blessed she feels to play with this group of girls.
“I think last season went good, but not as good as we anticipated. Last year was a learning tool for this upcoming season,” Garcia said. “It was great playing for that group of girls last year. We were very close last year and we’re even closer this year with us only losing two seniors and adding Darby Nichols to the varsity team. Before and after every game and practice, we break it down by saying, ‘Family’, because we are. I think each year we get closer and closer as a unit.”
Fairview will have a lot of experience coming back this year and Emma thinks that will be a big help in 2022-2023.
“Experience will be a big help in this upcoming season. This year, everyone (except Darby) will have played on varsity for a year or more. We were young last season, but this year, our team is made up of juniors and seniors with a lot of experience and one freshman who played on JV last year. I think this year, everyone knows we have to do as a team to be successful.”
Emma has played for head coach Justin Billings for her whole basketball career and has soaked up so much from him so far.
“Coach Billings is one of the best coaches I have ever played for. I’ve been playing for him ever since his first-year coaching at Fairview when he pulled me up to varsity when I was in the eighth grade. He’s only a great basketball coach, but a great life coach as well. He only ever wants the very best for us. He has not only helped me on the court, but also in setting plans for my future. He has helped me decide what I want for my future and how to pursue it. Without coach Billings, I wouldn’t have the amount of confidence in myself that I do now. He’s taught me the in’s and out’s of basketball. I think one of the biggest reasons we have been successful is because of our basketball IQ. He has made our program very successful in the last four years and will continue to do so. The biggest takeaway I have from him is although we all fail, it’s how you come back from that failure that makes you great.”
Emma has learned a lot from the upperclassmen before her and that has helped her become the leader that she is for the younger players.
“I have definitely learned a ton from the upperclassmen before me. My first year, Isabella McGukin was the one who took me under her wing and guided me through my first year playing at the varsity level. Next would be the 2021 seniors (Molly McKelvy, Daisy Manasco, and Maddie Yeager), who made my sophomore year probably the most amazing, enjoyable, and fun year so far. That was the year we won the county championship,” she said. “They taught me how to have fun with basketball and enjoy every moment and most of all, don’t take yourself so serious. They also taught me being a team means playing for one another. That means going to war for one another. I think the level of fight and passion they had set the standard we hold today. These upperclassmen have been the biggest influencers on me. They have also shown me how important is to guide and set a great example for the younger girls. I will help the younger players by guiding them through whatever they need help with like the upperclassmen have done for me.”
Emma has spent her summer improving every facet of her game and has set some big goals for herself and her team this season.
“After last season, myself and another teammate, who only plays basketball like me, started to do training sessions with coach Billings and his lessons have been a really big help in improving my game more. Another big thing is I’ve joined a travel ball team this year and coach Cook has been helping me as well. He has me doing a ton of drills too that will help me better my game and shoot the ball a lot more consistently,” she said. “Besides them helping me, working by myself has been a big part as well, pushing myself when no one is around and studying film from past seasons. My goals this year are to better myself and the people around me, as well as helping our team make it to state. As a team, our goals are to win county, win area, and make it to Birmingham. We know what it’ll take to achieve these goals and the sacrifices we will all have to make, but these goals are very achievable in our eyes. Our expectations are to better ourselves as a whole, which means having a better record than last season and each player contributing and believing they have an important role in the success of our team.”
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