The Freshman-Senior Dynamic

Sebastian Lena

Standing outside the women’s locker room, the two girls lean up against the wall, shoulder to shoulder, their hands behind their backs. Words are whispered, friendly shoves are given out, giggles are shared. If you didn’t know them, you could mistake them for sisters.

That’s the kind of bond that senior guard Myrna Tangar and freshmen guard Stephanie Vasquez share. It’s not all jokes, however. When asked to describe the other’s talents, it became clear how much respect they have for each other.

“Stephanie is quite honest and direct, which I respect highly,” Tanger states, shooting a smile towards her teammate. “She has a high level of intensity on the court, and won’t cut you any slack.” Stephanie smiles and dishes back a sentiment. “She is very straight forward, and tells us exactly what to do to win games. She brings a lot of energy to the team. All of this will help us grow up and become a better team.”

Don’t mistake their praise for one another as just sugar-coating the facts. Tanger and Vasquez both back up their talk with some telling statistics. The two are tied for second in the Little East Conference in steals with 2.4 per game. Tanger is also a force on the glass. In the Beacons’ 14 games this year, the senior guard has led the team in rebounding 9 times. Her 8.6 rebounds per game is good enough for third best in the Little East Conference.

Myrna and Stephanie aren’t the only ones who are enjoying this defensive prowess. “I love defense,” says Beacons coach Shawn Polk. “I think the team knows that. We’re starting to figure it out, actually, how important that is to the game of basketball.” Coach Polk’s team might be forcing themselves to play defense more often than they may want to. When asked what she believed her team needed to do in order to improve, she paused. Myrna and Stephanie laughed a little as they braced themselves for their coach’s answer. “Stop turning the ball over,” she yelled, laughing afterwards. “We turn the ball over a lot. We’re very anxious. Thirty turnovers a game is not going to help us at all.”

Other than the difficulties of keeping control of the ball, Coach Polk has also noticed the bond that Myrna and Stephanie share. “[Their] relationship has grown even more, with them playing together more. Stephanie reminds me a lot of some of the veterans on this team, especially Myrna, in things to do and not to do on the court.”

There’s always the possibility that there might be a little resentment or hostility from a senior player when sharing minutes with a freshman player. But with Myrna being a completely selfless player, she has no such thoughts. “Teaching Stephanie has kind of worked as a positive,” she says, “because it’s kind of challenged me.” Myrna also mentioned that the addition of a freshman guard has kept her motivated. “Well, I think I have to set an example for her,” she explains. “She’s helped me to calm down and be patient. I feel I need to help her out with her miscues.”

Coach Polk has done a fantastic job in spreading a calm and relaxed atmosphere throughout her locker room. Not only do the players joke around with each other, Coach Polk has joined with them. The bond that the team shares is like that of a family. They have their fun, but when it’s time for business, there is no lack of seriousness in their work. As Myrna stated, “One thing about us is that people underestimate us. They think we’re a bad team. But if you [let] down your guard on us, we’ll come up and bite you.” You’ve been warned Little East Conference.