Top 12 ranking in the nation? Check. Scholarships to D1 colleges and universities? Check. Camaraderie that has been developed since the toddler years? Check.
Coach Purtell's Lady Raiders Basketball Team is one of the best he's ever seen. Comprised of 19 girls, several of the juniors on the team already have athletic scholarships for college and are ready to take on their rivals despite an erratic game schedule.
"This year has been interesting," said Coach Purtell. "The schedule has changed, but we've kept practicing. Now, we're ready to play."
If all goes according to plan, the first game will be against Lancaster. The girls practice six days a week, and they are true basketball players all year, moving from club teams in the off season, lifting and conditioning begins in August, workouts continue into the Fall and then the season kicks off in the Winter.
"These girls are hard workers. Not only is their skill level really good, but academically, they're strong too." said Coach Purtell. "They keep their grades up."
Off the courts, the girls are a team as well. Taylor, a senior at RHS' eSTEM Academy and Alexia, a junior at RHS' Encore Academy, try to work bonding into their practices as well. "Some of us have played together since we were four years old," said Taylor. "Chemistry is a huge factor for a team and we all grew up together."
Alexia tries to be a mentor to the underclassmen. "We tell them to listen to what the coaches say, but to lean on us, the upperclassmen, too," she said. "We've been through this and we are here to help and guide the newer members of the team."
Despite the pandemic, the team has kept their heads up, relying on each other and their families for motivation. The team has a group chat and they're organizing a Secret Santa event for the holidays. "I'm just trying to go with the flow," said Alexia, who already has a full ride to the University of Louisville. "My mom has been a huge help, and I'm just trying to walk across that stage and get my diploma."
Taylor also credits her coaches with keeping the team's mood in check. "They push us when we need to be pushed and the goof around when we need to lighten up," she said.
Want to watch the Lady Raiders basketball games? You can do so on Raider TV
on YouTube with free live streaming!