“I already had the guacamole made, but my other hot plate took 10 minutes to make one quesadilla,” sad the coach, in relaxed, community-building mode, in contrast to his usual game-time fire. “I knew that wouldn’t work with the girls being hungry.”
One of the tall drinks of water coming up to the patio outside the team room was Alex Bonaguidi (“good guides” in Italian), a six-footer who is one of nine Knight freshmen Andy Koczon, assistant athletic director at Bishop’s, says “will be superstars in the future – they’re the story.”
The Knights recently played Orange Lutheran, a powerhouse up north, in the Villa Park Classic. “I thought we did pretty well (despite a loss),” said “Bona,” 15, who plays center on offense. “I saw a lot of growth (in our team).”
Observed teammate Maggie Johnson, “‘OLu was definitely a lot quicker than we were. They were more physical. They knew what we were doing to do before we did.”
But Johnson said there were lessons to take away from the defeat: “We realized we have to get back sooner on defense, and not ‘give them as much of our body’ (allowing the opponent to press into one’s space), instead keep our hips up.”
Maddie Keck, a lefty who plays on the 4-5 side (the right side of the goal) so she can wing the ball into the cage from that angle, said there isn’t that much drop-off in ability when the freshmen replace the upper-class women: “We (freshmen) have played together a lot. It makes our team very deep, so we know if one of the older players goes down, we can sub in and be able to” play at nearly the same level.
Keck, who turns 15 in January, has a trademark: Nutella and Eggos waffles. “I make chocolate chip waffles and put Nutella on them,” she shared.
A scrimmage against Carlsbad at the Draz Classic before the season was an earlier learning moment. “We didn’t have our coaches, Doug and Ian (Davidson). They were with the boys team for the CIF finals. We got scared. We weren’t playing as a unit, but as individuals.”
According to Maddie, the light bulb went on among team members.
Emmy Peabody and Alex Scafidi, freshmen who both play utility, agreed that a factor in the ninth-graders’ contributions is their familiarity with one another in the intimate school setting at Bishop’s. Also, “We always keep it positive for one another,” says the head coach’s daughter, 14, who plays on the 1-2 (left) or 4-5 sides.
Bonaguidi, the 6-foot tall center, has set as her goal the Youth team in the Olympic Development Program, having played at age 13 for the Development team and at age 14 with the Cadet team.