OSAGE | For Osage High School girls varsity basketball seniors Madi Johnson, Gabby Schwarting and Brenna Jacobs, this year will be their last opportunity to play together.
The three captains have all been playing basketball since the third grade, with Johnson and Schwarting playing together on the same team in third grade. Last year, the Green Devils made it to the state semifinals; this year, their goal is to be the conference champs.
“Our main goal is to make it back down for the state tournament,” Johnson said.
Each girl is a multi-sport athlete, taking part in two to three additional sports besides basketball. Jacobs plays volleyball and runs track, while Schwarting and Johnson are also on the track team and take part in cross country. In addition, Schwarting plays on the softball team.
“Our generation, you play sports,” Johnson said.
Having played AAU sports in addition to school athletics, each knows the value of team work and discipline.
“The key for us will be to not play down to the other team’s level,” Jacobs said. “We have to play better. We want to win conference, win each round in the post season, and go to state.”
In order to do that, the co-captains know they will have to rely on one another and their teammates in order to get the job done.
“We can’t settle for a lower standard,” Jacobs said.
Knowing they are the leaders of this year’s team, each knows the importance of staying positive and helping their teammates maintain positive attitudes through the season.
“We definitely have to play as a team,” Schwarting said.
While one of their strengths is certainly the experience they have with not only the game but with playing it together, the trio also recognize there are still things left they will need to work on.
“Rebounding is something we struggled with last year,” Johnson said. “It’s something we need to work on. Making shots is another. That’s what helps win games, and defense, definitely need to have the discipline to keep the little details in mind that we’ve learned since third grade.”
While they acknowledge their team has strength and height this year, in addition to being pretty athletic and having many experienced players, they recognize some of their opponents will be difficult to get past.
“Central Springs and West Fork will be our toughest opponents,” Jacobs said, “West Fork has two girls at 6-foot.”
While only Schwarting has plans to play college basketball, each expressed the game and the preparations that go into playing, have taught them valuable lessons they will carry with them throughout their lives. Among them being discipline, the importance of putting in extra work at times in order to make oneself better, and just what it actually takes to be a team.
“One thing I’ve learned is how to be in stressful situations and not freak out,” Jacobs said.
They’ve already won their season opener and gotten off to a good start.
“We’ve learned over the years to lead by example,” Johnson said. “Being freshman and sophomores, we had leaders on the team, and now we know that’s our job.”