by Sadie Ascano
There’s a special buzz around Immanuel campus, especially with regard to the basketball teams. With four talented transfers on the girls and four on the boys, the games are producing a gargantuan amount of school pride. Between both teams beating Kingsburg and the girls leaving Minarets behind by over fifty points, the school is definitely rising up to the occasion, both teams wishing to obtain a Valley title.
It is a common for one to have the desire to repeat the past, always wishing to recapture the magic of previous events. The desire for repetition is understandable, especially for the Immanuel Girls Varsity Basketball team, having won the Valley title in Selland Arena for the first time in school history, winning not one, but two State play-off games and finishing in the top eight teams statewide for Division V.
Last year’s team was one of pioneers, wishing to go where no girls basketball team had gone before. That wish turned into a fire that lit inside the hearts of every one of the players. This year’s season holds a different goal. We are no longer pioneers. We are not trying to repeat the magic of that team, but making our own: the magic of tradition.
Tradition cannot be started without an initiator and the initiator cannot institute without a dream. The dream was founded on a mere idea that could not be contained or destroyed through defeat. We are not trying to repeat the past, but we still have the same dream founded on the same idea. “I can’t compare it to last year. It’s a different group of girls,” said Zoe March, the returning point guard from last year’s team.
The concept was one objective: to honor God whole-heartedly while playing the sport we loved. Honoring God isn’t just through our sportsmanlike conduct, but also while we actually play. With every pass, every dribble, every basket, we seek to do our very best. That best is winning ultimately for The Lord. We play every game with the word “Immanuel” written on our blue jerseys. The word, also the name of the school, is taken from the book of Isaiah, when the Old Testament prophet is speaking about the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ. “He will be called Immanuel, God with us”(Isaiah 7:14). That word on our jerseys, meaning “God with us” isn’t something we’re being arrogant or conceited about.
“We all have the goal to honor Christ in everything we’re doing,” said Samantha Swan, transfer from Bullard and the starting power forward.
We are being witnesses to Christ through the game of basketball. We are witnesses through our conduct, our words, our performance and our interaction with the opposing team and the referees. Our desire is to work, fight and win together as a team. When we fall, we have each other to pick us up. When we lose, we have each other to rally with to fight again another day. When one of us gets hurt, we have each other to surround the fallen member with prayer for healing and comfort. It is a tradition, initiated by last year’s team.
I was talking to an elderly woman at church one Sunday and she noticed my Valley ring. She pointed at it, saying, “Oh, were you on that basketball dream team?”
I smiled and answered “Yes”.
She responded with, “Well I hope you guys can do it again this year.”
Looking back on the last season, it did feel like a dream, a wonderful one of fight, grit and heart. This year is one to make that dream a reality once again, not in the same way, but keeping every opponent aware of who we are, who and what we stand for and what we fight for, still keeping that dream alive with the fire in our hearts. We can be strong because we are together. We can stand strong because we are together. We can fight strong because we are together.
“I trust these girls because I know they have my back. They play more together as a team; more than any team I’ve been on,” said freshman Sophia March and Zoe’s younger sister.
“I like the humor on this team; I also love the relationships we’ve developed. We love each other,” shared Zoe.
“The strength of the team is in each individual member. The strength of each individual member is the team.” (Phil Jackson, Chicago Bulls).
Both teams started league play last Tuesday and Wednesday, where they both beat Kingsburg High School and they played Selma on January 24. For additional information, visit immanuelschools.com.
Editor’s Note: The team lost to Selma on January 24 by about twelve.