By Aimee Bisbee
ROGERS, ARK. — For many scholars at the Rogers campus basketball is a huge part of life. However, this year, for some girls having a team to play on was a challenge to overcome. Luckily a unique solution presented itself, allowing the girl’s team to have a massively successful season.
Head Coach Mark Sistoso recounts, “So we didn’t have enough players for the team…the head of the homeschool basketball association happens to be a co-worker of mine…he said they didn’t have enough homeschooled girls to play, and we didn’t have enough Haas [Rogers] girls to play and he said, ‘Do you want to put a team together if you coach it?’ so I said, ‘Yeah I’ll coach the team.”
The team merger allowed for both groups to have a season, but it also created new obstacles.
“When we first started practicing, there were two ends of the court, and so the Haas Hall people would all kinda shoot baskets on one side, and homeschoolers would shoot on the other one,” recalls Bethany Sistoso, a member of the Northwest Arkansas Hornets girls basketball team, and a Haas Hall Academy junior.
As the season progressed the boundary between the homeschoolers and scholars dissipated; hard work and determination brought the team closer together.
Addison Sexton, a Haas Hall Academy junior and a member of the Hornets described the relationship between the two groups, “We’re not afraid to go up to each other, say maybe we could do this, like maybe we can run the play better, we aren’t afraid to go up to each other and say things if we need to help each other improve.” She continued, “I definitely would like to continue being friends with some of these girls.”
But this season isn’t just about making new friends; the new girl’s team has been improving their skills and absolutely dominating the competition.
Sistoso explained, “We are able to really push ourselves, to be more physical, and be more confident in the way we play basketball; because we have to be more physical and put in more effort to actually work for our wins.”
On Wednesday, Jan. 24 the Hornets played against the Fort Smith girl’s basketball team. The scene could best be described as an action-packed spectacle. Tensions rose as the Hornets scored a basket, tying the game and bringing it into overtime. In the end, they walked out of the game victorious.
Ava Pegg, a Haas Hall Academy junior and power-forward on the Hornets, described their success this season, “We have won almost every game, I think, except maybe we’ve lost 3 or 4 games. We had as many as the boys, 18 games, pretty good.”
“The kids really wanted it this year. The kids really worked hard. And in previous years it has been fine, but I really enjoyed playing this school year, because it was a pleasure to see the girls grow.” Stated Coach Sistoso, continuing, “I think the team did an excellent job. They did everything we wanted them to do, and yeah I think this season was extremely successful.”
The scholars on the team want their success to be known, to encourage more girls to join, and generate more support for the team.
Pegg states, “I feel like it is important that they do know…if they come to our games, and see that we are winning at least they can get some hope that the girls’ team can persevere.”
The future of the Haas Hall and Homeschool Hornets girls’ basketball team crossover is uncertain; however, this season leaves a legacy that shows the girls’ ability to overcome challenges to play the sport they love.