‘Rise to the challenge’: Holly Pond’s Bai Widner excited for senior season

Holly Pond’s Bai Widner. (Katie Drummond/The Cullman Tribune)

HOLLY POND, Ala. — The Holly Pond Lady Broncos finished 12-17 last season and finished as runner ups in Class 3A, Area 13. They added yet another trip to Sub-Regionals to their resume and senior Bai Widner talked about what all she learned during that season and the positives that she took away from the experience.

“We had some good times last year, but I learned that to be a team, you have to truly love one another and respect each other enough to communicate on and off the floor. You have to show each other the love and commitment to what you’re doing, and you have to rise to the challenge,” Widner said. “Our bench was hyped. We were loud towards the end of the season and really stepped up to show we cared. I can say our enthusiasm will continue from last season.”

Bai played for head coach Andrew Kelley for three years and learned some things from him. She also talked about new head coach Mary Lauren Hartline and assistant coach Molly McKelvy and what she’s taken away from them so far.

“Coach Kelley was hard and he pushed you to the best of your ability. I learned that no matter what the situation is, I need to always keep pushing through, even if things aren’t going my way,” Widner said. “Coach Hartline and coach McKelvy are absolutely amazing. They push you because they know you can always give more. Coach Hartline always expects excellence no matter what. She knows our full potential, but she also understands we have bad days. They are always there for us, whether it is in or out of basketball. They mentor us to be great not only in our sport, but also in life. They tell us they are not only here to help with basketball, but they are getting us ready for life and to help us mentally push through any struggles we are faced with. Coach McKelvy is so positive and uplifting to us all. She tries her best to help us with anything. They are truly great coaches, and they know the game well.”

Bai has learned so much from the upperclassmen before her and that has helped her become the leader that she is today. The younger players have soaked up as much as they can from her so far.

“I learned to always stay positive and be uplifting, even if they are having a bad day. If you’re having a bad day, you have to remember to stay positive because someone is watching you and your actions speak louder than words. Talking to the underclassmen has helped them gain courage, at least it did for me. It showed me that someone believed in me and that made it easier to adjust to being the smaller kid on the team,” she said. “I try to teach the younger players to stay positive and I’ve also taught them that no matter what, you can’t get down on yourself. You just have to move on to the next play.”

Bai worked on some things during the summer and has set some goals for herself and the team this season. She also talked about what will make this team special to watch this year.

“I mainly focused on shooting and ball handling. I asked my coach what I needed to work on to help benefit my team and she told me those things, so I have tried to get the best at that and work on my mindset mostly,” she said. “My individual goal is to help the team in any way. I strive to be the loudest on the team and uplift everyone. My team goals are that we make it to our final destination, which is the state championship game. We are preparing for it and have been all summer. I pray that we step up to any challenges that are thrown at us and take them on headfirst. What will make us special to watch this season will be our strive and our willingness to do whatever it takes to win.”

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