By Josh Lashley
There are so many valuable life lessons that a young person can take away from participating in sports with dignity and sincerity throughout their high school careers. Lessons, such as the ability to handle successes as well as setbacks with the proper perspective, finding ways to improve oneself as well those on the team, and becoming more well-rounded by learning from mistakes and finding newer and better ways to achieve goals.
These are attributes that a student-athlete can apply to situations outside the realm of athletics for the rest of their lives.
This season, the Livingston High School girls’ basketball program is rife with players who are working very hard on the court, and the positive ways in which they approach the game will help them well into the future.
Not only is the coaching staff helping to ensure the each Lancer player competes to the best of their abilities, but so too are the team captains-Desi Brower, Kaitlyn Kelly and Viane Villanueva.
Brower, who began playing basketball as a youngster at the YMCA, is interested in pursuing a pre-medical major in college. Currently, she is looking toward Ramapo College, Hofstra University and Stony Brook University as places to attend next fall.
“As an individual I would like to improve my leadership this season,’’ Brower said. “Being a captain, I want to be able to lead my team both on and off the court. I would like to be a strong presence on the court statistics wise, but would also like to be there to help my team through the ups and down of the season.
“As a team I would like to see us continue to compete at our highest abilities. Our team has been placed in a higher conference this year having given us a very big challenge. As a team I think our goals will be to compete and work hard and hopefully this will leave us successful.’’
Villanueva began playing basketball in fourth grade and is looking to continue her academic career in the field of nursing at either the University of Scranton or Villanova University.
“Individually, I intend to be a positive role model for the younger players and really help the coaches and the other captains maintain a positive, enthusiastic, yet still competitive environment,’’ Villanueva said. “I hope to also improve as a player, continuing to expand my basketball knowledge and strengthening my weaknesses.
“As a team, we definitely have faced challenges this season, but I believe that we can continue to compete with teams such as Bloomfield Tech and Mount St. Dominic’s and really become a dominating force in our conference. I hope to see the team improving and becoming more aggressive as the season progresses.’’
Kelly, who began playing basketball at the age of five at the YMCA, is looking to attend either Ramapo College or the University of Scranton, but has also considered Rutgers University and Seton Hall University. She’d like to pursue a career in nursing.
“This is a year of redemption for me as it is my first year having a major role on the team at the varsity level,’’ Kelly said. “I am looking to be one of the team leaders in scoring and rebounding and to be a strong contributor on the defensive side.’’
Each of the captains noted some their strengths as well as some the things that they want to improve upon this season.
“My biggest strengths as a basketball player has always been my defense and my experience as a three-sport athlete, said Kely, who competes in soccer and softball as well. “Playing two other sports really gives me advantages in my personal fitness and knowledge of the game. I need to work on my confidence on the ball on the offensive side especially in driving to the basket. I have been focusing a lot on my foul shots which can become a huge advantage for me once I start driving a little more.’’
Villanueva would like to be more of an offensive threat as the season moves forward.
“I am definitely a more defensive player and having played basketball for about nine years now I have developed my basketball IQ immensely,’’ Villanueva said. “This season, I am working on becoming a more aggressive offensive player. I hope to become more confident with the ball and continue improving my shot.’’
Brower wants to make her presence felt more on offensive as well as the season progresses.
“As a basketball player my strengths lay in my communication and defense,’’ Brower said. “I am also very strong under the basket rebounding. I would love to improve my impact on offense becoming more of a threat both in the high and low post.’’
No matter how many wins the Livingston girls’ basketball team finishes up with this winter, the program’s future looks bright in large part because of the contributions of student-athletes like Brower, Kelly and Villanueva.