Make it happen: three simple words that might not mean anything to most people. But for the Marian basketball team, these three words drive everything they do. “It [‘Make it happen’] came up in the spring. This group has talked a lot about going to State. There’s been a lot of talking and wanting it to happen, and we’ve gotten closer and closer,” Mr. Peter Cunningham, varsity basketball coach, said. “It just comes down to making it happen. They can control their effort and how much they put into it.”
After this, “Make it happen” became the team’s new motto. It’s the team’s pledge to do everything it can to make their dreams of state a reality. “It’s basically a more assertive approach to getting it done,” Cunningham said.
It’s been a few years since the Marian basketball team has been part of the state competition. Six, to be exact, as the Crusaders’ last appearance in Lincoln took place in 2010. It’s an event many of the team’s current players have been aspiring for ever since they first stepped foot in the gym. “’Make it happen’ is a constant reminder of what our ultimate team goal is this season: making it to state and competing to the best of our abilities,” sophomore varsity basketball player Lily Gonzalez said.
In order to make it happen, the basketball team has made some changes to its lineup. The first includes a new set of coaches. Cunningham has been a varsity assistant since 2014, but this is his first season stepping up as head coach. Coach Jessica Abel moved up from the reserve team to become a varsity assistant. There’s a brand new addition to the team, as well: Mr. Kent Bray, another new varsity assistant coach who has spent the past 30 years coaching varsity and club basketball teams.
“I’m excited to come to a school that has the athletic recognition that Marian does,” Bray said. “We’re going to try and take that and make basketball as much a part of that as we can.”
The new coaches have been embraced by players familiar to the program. “I’m very excited to see how their coaching styles add to the development of the team. It will be nice having various perspectives on different areas of the game and [to see] how it will make the players better this season,” senior basketball player Megan Anderson said. Although the team lost a solid group of seniors from last year–including starting center Tehillah Alphonso and starting point guard Holly Banark–Cunningham and Bray are both confident with the amount of talent returning.
“There’s a good group of girls coming out, with a lot of potential. I’m excited to continue improving from last season and work our way to state,” Cunningham said.
In addition to competing at state, the girls on the team have a few additional goals. “Our team goals for this season include going hard during practice and even harder during games, working on our weaknesses, bonding as a team and trying to have some fun while playing the sport we all love!” Gonzalez said.
“I’m really looking forward to working hard this season and continuing to get Marian Basketball back on the radar as a tough competitor in Class A,” Anderson said. “This is the year.”