“I definitely had times when I only played barely 2 minutes in a game in my freshman year, so that was really … an emotional time for me, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue playing, but I stuck it out,” Rachel Solomon, Class of 2019, the MVP for this year’s Swish-A-Thon, said.
The 2019 Swish-A-Thon MVPs were Rachel Solomon from ADIDAB and Tenzin Dorjee Nepali from Nice Guys, both from the Class of 2019.
They displayed an astounding play in all their matches, leading their teams to victory. As the award’s title implies, they were not only the best skilled, but also were proficient in their rebounds, assists, and their overall presence in the court.
It was Nepali’s first time receiving MVP in his whole sports career, while it was Solomon’s second time receiving MVP for a basketball tournament.
For Nepali, it came to as more of a surprise. He expressed that he expected Lukas Ogan, Class of 2019, to win the award.
“I didn’t expect it, I thought Lukas would win that. He was a better scorer, he was aggressive, he communicated with us, so when I heard my name, I was surprised,” Nepali said.
While, for Solomon, it was not a big deal as MVP “wasn’t really the goal,” she said, adding, “I wanted have a last Swish-A-Thon and have good memories with my team, and obviously everyone wants to win.”
Having been on the Sr. Girls’ basketball team, this naturally got me thinking, what really distinguishes a MVP or a starting-five from other players?
Due to past experience, I knew it was rigorous: with two morning practices on weekdays, a three-hour long afternoon practice, followed by a Saturday morning practice for the Girls team.
Also, there were semi-mandatory basketball workouts every Tuesdays and Thursdays. It became increasingly tiresome to keep up with the physical exertion toppled up by the burdening workload, hence against my will, I quit basketball in junior year.
So I wondered how much of your life did you have to sacrifice to become a prominent basketball player at high-school level basketball? Or was it a something innate that made the difference?
Solomon started playing basketball during first grade, playing competitive-level basketball in her school in the States.
With that question, it took Solomon back to freshman year of high school in the States. She said that she had been playing basketball since first grade, however, she hadn’t faced many obstructions in her sports career until her freshman year.
Having been a core part of the team throughout her younger years, transitioning into high school was challenging as it was her first time playing with players who older and more experienced than her.
“I definitely had times when I only played barely 2 minutes in a game in my freshman year, so that was really … an emotional time for me, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue playing, but I stuck it out,” Solomon said.
She explained that it was sophomore year in her previous school she started to become more involved, and it was at Woodstock where she became a crucial part of the team.
“Yeah, tenth grade I became more part of my team in my old school, but Woodstock was where I started to become a really important part of the team,” Solomon said.
Solomon credited becoming an important part of the team at Woodstock to playing competitive level basketball at her previous school, which required more practices that were longer.
”I would say that I kind of had an advantage of coming from competitive level of basketball was for sure, I think I almost I had experience of practicing for five days a week so it was less when I came to WS,” Solomon explained.
Similarly, Nepali talked about being an integral part of the team when he had just started basketball in third grade, however having to sub during several games as it got more competitive throughout the years.
“When I was in third grade, I was part of the team where I was the starting point guard, but as I went up to seventh, eighth grade, there were more competitive players coming in, which made it hard to get in the starting five; that made me sit on the bench,” Nepali said.
He explained that the sudden shift of going from a starting point guard to a sub was a difficult time.
“That was a hard time because I wasn’t playing after playing many games like when you were young, So I just had to be patient …[while], watching the game,” Nepali said.
For Solomon, coming to Woodstock and becoming one of the main players was quite a bit of a shock. Especially during her first Win Mumby in 2017, she explained feeling a lot of responsibility on her shoulders.
She explained, “I hadn’t expected that before. I felt a lot of pressure because I felt like everyone was looking at one person to do everything while there were five people on the court. And everyone’s responsible for the game. During Win Mumby time mostly, I just felt like there were a lot of people depending on me.”
However, the responsibility on the court was much dispersed during her second Win Mumby.
“But I felt like the second Win Mumby was better because that’s when a lot of the girls on the team worked really hard last season to make everyone feel more confident in their shot, in their driving, and in their skills — so I felt like that was more of a team game — last Win Mumby. So then they were focused on more than two players,” Solomon said.
For both Nepali and Solomon to be a core part of not only the Senior team but also the Win Mumby team, they explained that patience was the key.
Nepali credited Mr. Jeff Doerfler, Dean of Student life, for teaching him the importance of patience in learning.
Nepali said, “Mr. Jeff told me being a sub and watching the game is also a very integral part of the game and then I did, and now senior year, I played Win Mumby starting five also.”
“That’s a big part for the subs to understand that the bench is just as important as the people on the court,” Rachel added.
Hyenjin Cho is the Editor-in-Chief of TheWoodstocker
Edited by Shivaansh Garg
Featured image by Knema Gardener