The Evans High School girls basketball team tips off its season at Tuesday's home game against Harlem High School, but the Lady Knights couldn't wait for the opening whistle.
Seniors Shannon Colbert, Kiley Smith and Ashley Hale organized the "Lady Knights Captain's Preseason Hoop-La," a get-acquainted party for parents, coaches and players, last week at Wingate Inn.
Evans High School basketball players Kiley Smith Colbert (from left), Ashley Hale and Shannon Colbert participate in the United We Stand program, which the senior players planned to help prepare for the season.
Photo by Mike Howell
Monday night's meeting featured food, fun and fellowship, not necessarily in that order - the food came last, while the fun and fellowship might last until the final buzzer of the 2001-02 campaign.
The theme, "United We Stand," was designed to set the tone for the season, and the gathering seemed to meet its objective, according to Colbert.
"Everybody got along and we came together as one. It was just beautiful," she said.
Attendees were greeted by soothing sounds of Colbert on keyboard. She then led the crowd in a soulful rendition of God Bless America.
Just so no one would be confused, an agenda listing each segment of the show was provided.
The seniors opened by offering "Golden Words of Wisdom," including Hale's admonition, "If there is joy in the journey, you have already arrived."
Head coach Tim Whitfield was up next, and he couldn't help but notice how the agenda sheet slugged his speech. "'The Road Ahead.' What a title, with all the traveling we'll be doing," Whitfield said, eliciting a laugh from the crowd.
"I was really blown away by how the seniors organized all this," he continued. "When they said we were going to have a get-together, I was expecting hot dogs in somebody's back yard. To go to all this trouble is really impressive."
Whitfield then assessed the upcoming season.
"I look at this team as having the potential to get better every game," he said. "This is a good start for us. About a month from now, when everybody's tired and thinking of other things, we can remember tonight."
The seniors followed with "Great Expectations," which articulated team goals.
Colbert said, "I expect to see us become one. Where there is unity, there is strength ... don't put another player down, because we're a team - we're the Evans Lady Knights."
Coach and teacher C.C. Armstrong then delivered a passionate "Pep Rally Talk."
"Who are these young ladies before you? These ladies are mountain movers who are strong, and come in all shades God created ... they are waiting and watching, yearning and hoping for a winning season this year ..."
When Armstrong added, "They are Lady Knights and they cannot be stopped," someone responded, "Amen."
The parents later stopped the Lady Knights by winning a "mind-teaser" guessing game. The players lost by one guess, after being stumped by the phrase "shrinking violets."
As the evening ended, there was only one question left - What's next?
"We're going to go out there, play our hardest and play as a team," Smith said.
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