The Making of Heroes


March 1, 2023

I walked into the Big Sandy High School gym and sat down to watch our 4th, 5th, and 6th-grade athletes learning to play basketball. Their coaches are Eryn NNissen, Ronnie Simpson, and assistant Nathan Merrill. They were learning how to shoot a layup—learning how to put your leg up while you put your hand up. Of course, they were running and trying to do all that simultaneously. Next, they practiced defense, how to place their hand, how to move the body in the correct position, and when they got down to the other end of the gym, they were supposed to sprint back. Ronnie said, "Does everybody know what a sprint is? It means you run to the other end as fast as you can." They learned by doing! It was wonderful.

They all lined up and practiced quick feet, or I prefer foot fire. It's where you move your feet very fast up and down, teaching them to stay on their toes, moving to the right and then to the left. So much fun to watch.

Basketball doesn’t start when you join the varsity team.

I wish Big Sandy varsity player could have seen their faces when I asked them who their favorite Pioneer basketball players were. They'd get big eyes and smile big. Then they would wrinkle up their forehead while thinking. Everyone had a different player and for a different reason.

And if you would allow me, I'd like to say to varsity basketball players that your influence on the grade school athletes is more important than winning any game. You are a HERO in their eyes!! They so much want to be like you.

“I like watching Eva and Eva play because they are very good at basketball.” She’s not a bad player herself for a 6th grader.

“My favorite would probably be Lane Demontiney because he is a 3-point shooter. I always wanted to be a 3-pointer shooter, and I'm working on being a 3-point shooter. I like the way he comes out and doesn't even hesitate. He's confident when he shoots." He would have stayed there for 15 minutes telling me about the players on the team and how he wants to play as they do. He isn't like them yet, but he's working on it.

"My sister. Because I look up to her! She's my hero."

“I would have to say Angie Sant because she is a really good post player, and I'm playing a post player this year, so at the high school, I would watch her to see what I'm doing. “

“Isaac because he mostly leads our team.”

“Kody. I feel like he has good ball-handling skills. I like to watch him. His knowledge of the game. His presence on the floor." He actually said presence. It made me smile!

Some couldn't remember their names, primarily because I was interviewing them. But they mentioned running so fast on the floor, jumping so high, and hard fast passes. I thought it interesting that no one mentioned their favorite player made the most baskets. They really did watch the game.

Heroes in their eyes! Varsity players pay attention! You have already accomplished more here than any winning season could.


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