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Freshman finds success starting with varsity team

Tom DiGrispino
Freshman Malika Jenkins brings the ball down the court.

Malika Jenkins felt a love she never felt before when the basketball touched her hands for the first time at the age of only five years old.

Throughout the years, she has played on school and AAU teams. Now a freshman, Jenkins is a starter on the varsity girls basketball team, which has started with a 3-3 record.

Jenkins leads the teams in assists and steals. She averages 4.2 assists and 3.8 steals at the moment. 

M.J. has nice skills and a high basketball IQ. She rarely plays too fast and does not get frazzled easily,” Kelly Kratz, the head coach of the girls varsity basketball team, said. 

The coaches have found it very easy to incorporate the freshman into the young team.

“She is our starting PG right now. She also can knock down 3’s consistently. If a player can score at multiple levels, that makes her very hard to guard,” Coach Kratz added.

The older players on the team are seemingly making sure that freshman is comfortable in her position and is able to adjust swiftly to the latest role she’s played in.

“They help me adjust by trying to come and help me. They come and correct me because honestly, I don’t really know everything. They’ve been here longer, so they help me adjust by telling me what’s right for the team and what’s wrong.”

Making a jump to varsity has been stressful at times for freshman Jenkins. 

“My coaches hold me at a high standard and sometimes it’s a lot of pressure and I get nervous,” she said.

“I’m playing way older players at each level.” 

Jenkins has a long career ahead of her and more to learn along the way. Starting as the point guard for varsity comes with making difficult decisions on offense. To be a point guard, one must have a high basketball IQ and skilled decision making. 

“ MJ is going to have to learn to lead our offense, defend at a high level and execute,” Coach Kratz said.

“Anytime you coach younger kids, it is a process. Every practice and game is a learning experience. As long as MJ is open to learning and growing, I don’t have any worries,” she added.

Jenkins has found her way to continue forward with her journey, taking it step by step, to becoming a better player each day and leading her team to wins.

“I just keep pushing and respond the best way that I can.” Jenkins said.




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