The Hanover girls' basketball team was in much better spirits than might be expected a week after losing all-everything sophomore Soukaina Tracy to a torn ACL in her left knee.
It's hard not to be in happy with head coach Denny Garman's 5-year-old daughter Ava providing constant comic relief. As the team finished stretching last Thursday, Garman asked if there were any drills anyone wanted to focus on.
"Freeze tag!" Ava yelled.
The athletes all laughed and put on a good show, scattering around the court to dodge the little lady for 90 seconds before resuming drills.
Senior Rebecca Silver said Garman bringing actual members of his family to practice is just one way he has helped to create a family atmosphere. Before Garman took over the team in the 2011-12 season, the coaching position had been a revolving door.
A three-sport athlete, Silver said the basketball team has a chemistry that she has not so easily experienced in soccer or track and field. She said it's not unusual for underclassmen to come to the seniors for help in class, basketball or their social lives.
"We know when to be competitive and when not to be," Silver said. "We're playing for a starting position and all that, but we leave that on the court."
Harman preaches that learning life lessons is far more important than winning. The team's positive response to Tracy's injury has shown him they've been listening.
"That's what it's all about," Harman said. "Hopefully these girls are going to do much greater things after high school than they could ever do on a basketball court."