In the fast-paced world of Deerfield, most students barely think twice about junior varsity teams, but they are absolutely crucial to the athletics culture at the Academy. There is a longstanding tradition of students using junior varsity teams to learn a new sport, make friends, or advance to the varsity level. They may not be known for their WNBA style dunks, but the girls’ junior varsity basketball team creates a strong community, fosters development, and crushes the competition, exemplifying everything right about junior varsity play.
A team is only as good as the affinity of its players, and the girls’ junior varsity basketball team can be best described as a tight-knit group. Commenting on the team dynamic, Sami Dulam ’21 said, “I’ve been on the team since freshman year and I would say that this year, being an upperclassman on the team, I know that the JV Ball team has truly been a family to me. No matter who you are as a player, everyone has a place on the team.” The girls attribute this to the team’s leadership, such as captains Annie Kane ’20, Samara Cummings ’20, Whitney Vogt ’20, and Molly Fischer ’20, and coaches Mr. Kevin Kelly and Dr. Nina Otterson.
There are also certain activities, such as blasting music during bus rides, team visits to snack time, and team dinners, that the girls say makes their team feel like a second home.
While the team has been like a family to returning players, new students feel equally at home with their teammates. Describing her experience as a new junior on the team, Annie Gouchee ’21 said, “The spirit of the girls’ JV ball team helped me feel welcomed as a new student.” They also help their newest members acclimate to the Deerfield climate. As Meghan Holland ’23 said, “I made a lot of friends and throughout the season we got really close.”
Besides creating a sense of community, this team also builds well-rounded, strong basketball players. Hannah Deringer ’20, who moved from JV to varsity her sophomore year, said, “JV basketball prepared me for varsity because the grit on the team was superb. The team morale was especially high because everyone wanted to play with each other. We all took having fun and playing hard very seriously.”
Through drills, scrimmages, and sprints, the coaches make sure the team is in good physical shape in order to play their best. Every Friday, the girls have a “3 point Friday,” where they compete to see who can score the most 3’s. The playful competition has been a big key to their success as a team. They are also strong individual players; when asked about her progression as a player, 4 year senior Whitney Vogt said, “I have learned to put the team over myself and how to work with others even if we disagree.”
The most impressive aspect of JV ball thus far is their stellar record. The girls currently stand 10-0 with a major win against NMH in overtime. They also sent bad news back to Salisbury after tarnishing Hotchkiss’s undefeated record with a 22-9 win. With the momentum they’ve built up to this point, there are high chances of them having an outstanding season Coach Kevin Kelly attributes these wins not to his coaching but to the girls themselves, saying, “They never ever quit and they give nothing but 100% supporting each other.”
Girls Junior Varsity Basketball continues to shine on and off the court and is one of Deerfield’s strongest examples of everything right about sub-varsity teams.