FAIRBORN — One can usually find the bright side in losing, but it becomes difficult to do when you’re not winning.
The Fairborn girls basketball team has taken what it can get out of its 19 games this season as all of them have ended in the loss column.
“We always remind them, it can’t just be about the wins and losses,” head coach Brooklyn Summitt said. “It’s kind of like the Nick Saban thing of it being about the process. So we just try to say things like that a lot, trust the process. It’s hard for them because they are so young and it’s a lot of work, but we just have to tell them to trust it.”
The Lady Skyhawks have been figuring out the requirements to reach the level of commitment and self-motivation needed to get through a rough season. And has had to learn a bit on its own from the outset of this season.
The process began with Summitt needing to sit out the first half of the season due to the birth of her second child. Two of the team’s assistants had to take up the majority of coaching duties until she was ready to return.
“When we came back, we were impressed by their heart,” Summitt said of her players. “It’s tough to be able to teach something like that or the chemistry that they had built. They’re all close and that’s nice because you don’t really have to worry about any sort of bickering.”
Fairborn is a young team compared to many it has faced. Eight of the team’s 10 players are freshman or sophomores, and no senior is on the roster.
Summitt noted she can find both the advantages and knocks on having a youthful group. Acknowledging the team needs to work on maintaining its focus to avoid having its energy fade, she said being able to teach the group using terms they learn through her is a good thing.
“They’re not set in their ways, so it’s a bit easier to teach them new things and habits,” she said. “If you’re playing on multiple teams outside of here, you’re going to have more coaches throw different things at you, but when you get them young you get more of a clean slate and can teach them new skills from scratch.”
The team’s two juniors are left to take on more of a developing leadership role which Summitt said isn’t common.
Only four players returned this season having any playing time of significance from last year’s team, which meant fewer players who knew the expected routines in practice and how to help provide individual attention to newer players.
“It’s always hard to find your own voice and it’s good that they are because we need someone to be vocal leaders for us and bring the positivity,” Summitt said.
The Skyhawks average margin of defeat in its first nine games was 41 points. In its last 10 that number has dropped to 33.
While not a dramatic improvement in terms of score, the reduced number is the first sign which can jump out the most to see the team’s improvement. Watching its play on the court is where the full grasp is gained.
Fairborn has shown recognizable advancements in on court awareness, decision making, shot taking and general basketball ability as the season has played out.
“We just need to continue telling them that the scoreboard does not matter,” Summit said. “It is going to be about what you do on the court. The process and the scoreboard can take care of itself. Focus on the process and those things that we’re teaching. If we’re talking about something in practice, apply it a game. Don’t come out and ignore those things. They are getting that slowly, but they are.”
Some of those things to apply have come from individualized goals provided by the coaching staff. Summitt said she has been open to letting her players speak about the type of players they wish to try and become and will help put together workouts to give them something more to stride for while practicing.
Ava Williams has taken over the team lead in scoring and is in the top-20 for made three-pointers in the MVL. Ella Bowman is the team’s leading rebounder. Stephanie Parrish has been more of an all-around player and one of the growing vocal leaders for her teammates if they were to get down on themselves, Summitt said.
Overall the best thing that would surely be wanted by all is a win. A schedule down the stretch that involved playing 9 games in 21 days may not have helped, but it provided the reps needed to continue to improve.
Three more opportunities remained, including a game on Monday against Greenville. Whether it happens or not this season, the Skyhawks are setting itself up for it to pay off in future years.
“You can tell everyone likes each other and that they are friends which also want to work hard,” Summit said. “It’s really nice for us and everyone does want to improve. It’s just going to take time because they need to break some habits and things like that. I’m proud of them though and we all are.”
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.