U-High Midway

Smaller team, stronger bonds

With fewer U-High girls choosing to play basketball, team more supportive, bonded atmosphere

PASS+IT+ON.+Girls+basketball+players+huddle+up+and+motivate+each+other+before+the+fourth+quarter+of+home+game%2C+Jan.+15.+Down+by+20+points%2C+the+team+was+not+discouraged+as+their+coach+passed+along+positive+energy+and+support.+U-High+finished+the+game+at+41-48.
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Smaller team, stronger bonds

PASS IT ON. Girls basketball players huddle up and motivate each other before the fourth quarter of home game, Jan. 15. Down by 20 points, the team was not discouraged as their coach passed along positive energy and support. U-High finished the game at 41-48.

PASS IT ON. Girls basketball players huddle up and motivate each other before the fourth quarter of home game, Jan. 15. Down by 20 points, the team was not discouraged as their coach passed along positive energy and support. U-High finished the game at 41-48.

PASS IT ON. Girls basketball players huddle up and motivate each other before the fourth quarter of home game, Jan. 15. Down by 20 points, the team was not discouraged as their coach passed along positive energy and support. U-High finished the game at 41-48.

PASS IT ON. Girls basketball players huddle up and motivate each other before the fourth quarter of home game, Jan. 15. Down by 20 points, the team was not discouraged as their coach passed along positive energy and support. U-High finished the game at 41-48.


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U-High girls are passing on basketball and running toward other year-round sports such as club soccer and volleyball.

Last year the girls basketball program had 11 players, only enough to form a varsity team, and this year’s roster has just 10 players. In stark contrast, the boys team has enough players to field a full varsity and junior varsity team.

In years past there have been much higher interest and enrollment in basketball. At one point, there have were multiple girls basketball teams.

Athletics Director David Ribbens said he encourages high school basketball coaches to be more involved in middle school basketball, where 46 players participated this year. He hopes that by building relationships between players and coaches, they will retain more of the players into high school.

I think our team has been close for a couple of years now. Everyone’s friends with everyone, like I feel like everyone feels like they can go talk to anyone.”

— Stephanie Miller

The past two years, the athletics department have incorporated the sixth grade into the basketball program in order to minimize the loss that comes from sports specialization.  

Mr. Ribbens said that during his 15 years at Lab, there have been a few years with two girls teams.

A varsity girls basketball player suggested high school girls choose other options rather than school basketball.

“I think girls basketball, in general, is not that popular of a sport and people tend to when they are younger, especially in the city, play soccer because there are more clubs to play on,” basketball captain Stephanie Miller said. “If you want to play AAU you have to go to the suburbs, and a lot of people don’t have the resources to do that.”

While club basketball opportunities for girls are minimal, club volleyball is rapidly expanding, contributing to the decline in girl basketball players, according to Mr. Ribbens.

However, there are upsides of having fewer players.

“I think our team has been close for a couple of years now,” Stephanie said. Everyone’s friends with everyone like I feel like everyone feels like they can go to talk to anyone.”

Team size also allows players to focus on more technical drills, and Stephanie said that they always have enough players to field a team in a game.

Mr. Ribbens expects that one of the reasons for the low numbers is the length of the season, which stretches over both Thanksgiving and winter breaks.

One of the major downsides of having low numbers is that girls who would normally be placed on the JV team are thrown onto the varsity court with little experience. According to Mr. Ribbens, these players would benefit from a JV season to develop their skills and grow their confidence.

As sports specialization gains popularity, sports that are poorly catered to younger ages suffer as parents choose to enroll their daughters on soccer and volleyball teams. Opposing specializing in a sport, Mr. Ribbens suggests that students play as many different sports as they can in high school.

He said, “The club volleyball players are playing volleyball and club soccer players are playing soccer and the winter sport of basketball just isn’t getting as much club exposure during the timeframe.”

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Smaller team, stronger bonds