HANCEVILLE, Ala. — The Hanceville Lady Bulldogs finished with a 6-18 record last season in and junior Kate Sterling plans to bring all she learned last year onto the court this season. Almost every player will be back from last year’s Bulldogs team, including some new additions, and Sterling can’t wait to see what they can accomplish this season.
“I felt like last season was a learning process for everyone. We never had a lot of players, but we had players that gave 100% every time they were on the floor. Personally, I learned that your results equal the amount of time you put in the gym and hard work beats talent when talent isn’t working hard.” Sterling said. “We have every player back for the new season. There will be many new additions to the team and I’m excited to see the growth in every individual girl.”
“It’s amazing to see all the girls come back. The connection we’ve all created is something special. You have to build trust outside of the basketball court in order to build one inside of it. Team chemistry is something we’ve always strived to have because we know the impact it plays during the game.”
Kate learned a lot from last year’s senior, Victoria Stanley, and from last year’s coach, Tim Bellmon.
“Victoria taught me to persevere, even when things aren’t going exactly how you want them to. She led the team by example and hard work. She stepped up last year when we needed her the most and became the best version of herself. She had an impact on me that was bigger than basketball. I’m grateful to have had her as my teammate,” Sterling said. “Coach Bellmon made me fall in love with the game of basketball. His expectations for us were very high and he wanted us to be the best version of ourselves on and off the court. It was never easy with him. He saw our potential when we didn’t see it in ourselves. We all had a very close connection with him and seeing him go was very challenging. He forever impacted my life and my perspective of the game.”
Hanceville will have a new head coach this season in Christina Watson, who’s coming back after coaching them from 2014-2020. Kate has heard some great things about her, and the team can’t wait to see what all she has in store for them this season.
“I never had her as a coach, but I’m super excited to finally experience that. I’ve heard great things about her, but as a team, we know it isn’t going to be easy. We’re going to welcome her with open arms, and I hope we all build a bond with her. We know the work we have to put in and I’m excited to see where she takes us this season,” she said. “She is going to bring excitement and a new perspective to the team. She isn’t afraid to make you work, and I think that’s what we need: someone who is going to push us past our limits so we can reach our best potential.”
Kate worked on a lot in the summer and a lot of young girls have been working out with the team before tryouts began Oct. 19. Kate was so happy to see that and that will definitely help this team even more when the season gets here.
“For me, summer was mostly about being confident with the basketball in my hands. I worked on scoring with my back to the basket. I also worked on ball-handling and being more effective with my off-hand. Mentally, I worked on finding a second gear and just being able to push through, even when I was tired,” she said. “It’s great seeing a larger group of girls. The older girls are having to step up and be leaders to them. Even seeing the older girls work with them and be open to building new relationships makes me happy to see and I can’t wait to see where we are as a team in November. Seeing the young girls work on their game is great. Motivation to get better is always a good thing. It’s been fun working with them and watching their growth.”
Kate will be one of the leaders on this year’s team and she’s taught the younger girls a lot on and off the court.
“Being a leader is going to be very important. Setting a good example for them is something I’m working at every day, along with the other older girls. I remember what it was like to be in their shoes and to look up to the upperclassmen. I want them to be able to come to me about anything, basketball-related or not,” she said. “My goal for them is to enjoy the sport, get better every day, and when it’s their turn, be leaders to the next group of girls.”
Kate has set some goals for herself and the whole team and she thinks that this will be a very special year for the Bulldogs.
“As a team, we want to get better every game and every practice. We want to win, and we want to put a number on the wall. That’s been the goal for us for a long time. I think this is the year that it’s very possible and I’m confident in our ability to do so. My goals stand the same as the team ones. I want to get better and push myself past my limits to be the best version of myself,” she said. “Our ability to read each other is going to make our team special to watch. Most of us have grown up playing with each other. The growth from the past season to now is great. I’m excited for everyone to see how much we’ve improved in a few months.”
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