Judy remains leader through tough season for N-T
A senior tri-captain on the North Tonawanda girls basketball team, Judy, like the rest of her veteran teammates, came into the new season with hopes higher than ever before.
For the first time in four years, the Jacks had a nice blend of experienced leaders and talented newcomers who were all athletic and hungry for success.
But fate hasn’t been the Jacks’ best friend as the season of promise turned into a season of struggles. Going winless in Niagara Frontier League play, the Jacks are doing their best to end strong in the playoffs.
Through it all, Judy has been the voice of leadership.
“There’s not a day that goes by where she’s not involved in conversations with myself or her teammates about what can we do differently so that we get a different outcome,” Jacks’ coach Luke Vogel said. “She’s been much more vocal the second half of the year, not only during games but probably more important during practice.
“Because we don’t talk enough, sometimes her teammates have struggled with how to deal with it,” he added. “But at the end of the day, it’s what this team needs and more importantly it’s what the program needs— people willing to hold each other accountable.”
“It’s been real hard,” Judy admitted. “We came out thinking we were going to be so much better than we are and we’re all just not stepping up like we should be.”
The starting point guard, Judy does her best to generate offense every time the Jacks bring the ball up court and plays strong defense in her end. When it comes to stepping to speak candidly, well, Judy hopes teammates understand that everything she says is for the greater good of the team.
“I try to do that,” Judy said. “It feels like people sometimes take it the wrong way...take it a different way than I try to portray (the message).”
Keenly aware that it isn’t just about this season and her senior year, Judy knows what she does and says will have a lasting impact on the program. And by her words and actions, Judy is trying to plant the seeds of how to do things the right way and pointing the youth of the program in a positive direction.
“She’s taken both of our JV point guards — Lindsey Piotrowski and Gina Malone — under her wing,” Vogel said. “Regardless of what drill we’re doing, she makes sure that they’re with her. She walks them through everything and has been a great influence particularly for Lindsey Piotrowski who is a seventh grader playing JV and extremely talented, but is young — she’s 12-years-old. And Rachelle has done wonders for her.”
“I just try to be positive and work as hard as I can so maybe they can be leaders in the following years,” Judy said.
A highly competitive person who has experienced success on the court as a player and coach, Vogel admits this season has taken a toll on him as much as the players. But the drive and effort Judy displays everyday helps keep him motivated.
Judy knows that ultimately the challenges of this season will pay off by making her a stronger person who will be able to handle any curve life throws her way.
“Even though there’s struggles you just have to keep moving forward and keep going as hard as you can,” she said. “It’s not going to change if you don’t try.”