Dec. 8, 2011
Junior guard Molly Yardley will take Army women's basketball fans on a journey throughout the 2011-12 season through her blog The Whole Nine Yards. Yardley is the Black Knights' top returning scorer from a year ago and only returning starter. Check back weekly to follow along with the inside happenings of the Army women's basketball team.
Hello there, everybody! There is a lot going on with your favorite basketball team. Last week, we bounced back after a tough loss with a great home win against an incredibly talented Hawai'i team. It was the first time we'd won a close game. We erased a seven-point halftime deficit with a huge run of our own, and never looked back. As Jordan Elliott points out, we play best when we play as a family - when we are unselfish, intense, and motivated only by the fact that we don't want to let each other lose. When we've played like that, we haven't been beaten. We let a close game slip away from us on the road at Loyola of Maryland on Saturday and another one at home against Binghamton on Tuesday, though, and are hoping to bounce back against Penn this Saturday. We just need to keep doing the little things a little bit better, and we'll be able to breakthrough and win those close games.
At a place like West Point, leadership is always being talked about. We learn different aspects of leadership, we evaluate leadership, study leadership, find our leadership style, and get constant feedback on the kind of leaders we are. In the midst of all of this, sometimes we forget to, you know, lead. There are times when what we learn in cadet-land and what we learn at basketball have absolutely no overlap, and there are times when they couldn't be paired together more perfectly. Leadership is one of those crossover things.
We've been truly blessed this year to have three great leaders on our team. Our firsties - Meg Doucette, Kait Goodall, and Erin Jankowski - are the reason that this young group of benchies and freshmen is off to a 6-3 start. Great teams are the direct result of great leadership. I remember reading a Dwight Eisenhower quote that said, "You don't lead by hitting people over the head--that's assault, not leadership." Kait, Douce, and Janks don't hit anybody over the head with anything, except for when the plebes leave things on the bus, and then Kait will pull out the hammer. They actually do this thing where they lead the way, not because they're loud or flashy or overbearing, but because they walk the walk.
The three of them are not only great leaders, they're great teammates. They're dependable. For example, Kait can always be counted on to bring up John Wayne. Or really anything Western and conservative in general. Janks can be counted on to sing songs with her beautiful voice (seriously, it's um...unlike anything I've ever heard before). Douce can be counted on to become the center of everyone's attention when it gets quiet. Need a movie quote? Find Douce. Need someone to tell you to suck it up and get over yourself? Talk to Kait. Want some info about sharks? Ask Shark Tank Janks herself.
They're the three most different people in terms of personality, but all the pieces put together work. As a class, they've probably overcome the most adversity of any class in the last few years. They're the only class currently on the roster that has had a winning season. Most importantly, they're incredible people. Did I mention they're all smart, too?
Thursday night was Branch Night here at West Point, but Douce, Kait, and Janks were too busy helping us beat Hawai'i to make it down to the ceremony. So immediately after the game, COL Donna Brazil presented them with their envelopes. It's sort of like a sick game show - inside each envelope is the symbol that corresponds to the branch that they were assigned to. We knew that Janks would get her first choice - the Corps of Engineers. Douce had sort of kept her choice a low-key affair, so we weren't necessarily worried, but we were pretty excited to see what she got. It was Kait that had everybody on the edge of their seats. It wasn't that we doubted that she would get her first choice - Aviation - we just knew she wanted it so badly. And like any family, what we want most is for all of them to be happy, so we waited with bated breath for COL Brazil to hand out their envelopes.
Kait took forever to open her envelope. Douce and Janks waited to react until Kait had opened hers all the way...and YAY! She got Aviation! I am not too proud to admit that my eyes watered a bit, and I wasn't the only one. It's one of those times at West Point where the sudden realization that this isn't just college hits in full force...Kait and Douce were going to be pilots come May, and Janks was going on to actually build things. How cool is that?
In addition to all their academic success, they've been the steady anchors of this team since May. Janks isn't necessarily playing anymore, but she's always the first person to tell you you've done a good job, always there with a pat on the back and words of encouragement when you're having a rough time. Her passion for basketball and for Army (and for sharks...) is contagious, and reminds all of us that this is a game and a place that we love.
Douce's intensity and work ethic sets the tone for our team. She's the one you can count on to make the big hustle plays when we need them; case in point, Thursday night when she grabbed three HUGE offensive rebounds when we needed them most. Had we not gotten the ball back because of her hustle, that game might have turned out a lot differently. She's the kind of person you always want on your side - her fire, determination, and competitiveness sometimes scare us, but that same fire gets everyone else going.
Kait pretty much is an old western hero like her idol, John Wayne. She's quiet, a master of understatement, and incredibly tough. Plus she has a mystery southern accent - I'm not so great at geography, but last I checked Colorado wasn't the Deep South. Kait just shows up when you need her to. She's solid, dependable, and honest. If I had to sum her up using one word, it would be integrity. Who she is on the court and who she is in real life are exactly the same, and she expects the best from herself and every one of us. Hustle is a zero-tolerance issue for her just like for Douce and Janks. If you don't give one hundred percent every time you're on the floor, you'll hear about it.
I came across the Quote of the Day for this entry while on the internet looking for some ideas on leadership. It's from Jesse Jackson, and I thought it summed up the type of leaders that Kait, Douce, and Janks are. Here you go:
"Leaders must be tough enough to fight, tender enough to cry, human enough to make mistakes, humble enough to admit them, strong enough to absorb the pain, and resilient enough to bounce back and keep moving."
Our three leaders are exactly all of those things; they're real people who have done extraordinary things when challenged. Part of the reason we were all so excited for them on Branch Night was because we all know that they have so much to give to the "big Army" and the world. I imagine it's a little bit how parents feel when they're kids are ready to go off to college. We wish we could keep them here with us forever because we love them so much, but in our hearts we know that they're ready to go. Douce will go out and make her soldiers feel completely incompetent because she's just annoyingly good at everything. Kait will teach them that if they thought they were tough, they were wrong. Janks will whip her soldiers into the best Engineers the world has seen - I think some of us will find ourselves driving over a bridge in Afghanistan with the inscription "EJ14" on the side...
It's been an incredible season so far, and we're only 10 games in. Our firsties play every day like it's their last, and that sense of urgency is infectious. They've pushed us, taught us, and picked us up in our worst moments and that's the definition of leadership. They show up when we need them to. Most importantly, they show us through their own action and commitment that anything is possible if you're just willing to work hard enough. You can't ask for anything better than that from a teammate.
Thanks again for checking in, and wish us luck as we head into exam week!
BEAT UPENN! (AND THE DEAN...)