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The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

With a Struggling High School Program, Girls Basketball is Forced to Look to the Future

Current WIS varsity basketball coach Brian Brennan coaching at his former school, St. John’s College High School. (Courtesy of Brian Brennan)

No abrupt transition is clearer in WIS sports than the weekend between the end of the soccer season and the beginning of the basketball season. 

On Sunday, Nov. 13, purple and white confetti fell onto the Catholic University field, marking a bittersweet end to the WIS boys varsity soccer season. Over a hundred WIS teachers, parents and students filed out of the stadium after the team’s disappointing loss in the final round of the District of Columbia State Athletic Association (DCSAA) Boys Soccer Championship.

Just a couple of days later, as teachers and the few remaining students left the campus at dusk, the boys varsity basketball team tipped off the first game of their season to a meager crowd of around two dozen spectators. The team would lose by 33 points.

Nowhere is the lack of a basketball culture at WIS more evident, however, than in the girls varsity basketball team. The same day the boys started their season at home, the girls set off on a 30 minute bus drive to McLean High School. The team, which is entirely made up of middle schoolers, would lose 52-13 against a team containing people applying to colleges. 

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During the 2021-2022 school year, which was the first sports season since the start of the pandemic, only two upper school girls signed up for the team, causing the school to cancel the season. Hoping to better promote a basketball culture for girls at WIS, Athletics Director Floreal Pedrazo ran a girls-only basketball clinic before the start of the 2022-2023 basketball season.

Pedrazo also knew that going into the new season, he would need to find the right coach: someone who was patient, worked well with kids and was interested in a long term plan. Through networking and contacts, Pedrazo met Coach Brian Brennan, who had already coached some of the current sixth graders in a nonprofit basketball league called the Palisades League. 

Brennan is a former National Championship winner as the coach of St. John’s College High School, but recently left when he got married and became a father. . “I had to stop volunteering my time and be more cognizant of the baby and managing my time so I could generate revenue,” Brennan said. “[Pedrazo] gave me an opportunity and [I] decided to go with it.” 

Additionally, Pedrazo sat down with Brennan and stressed the importance of realistic expectations going into the 2022-2023 girls basketball season. “This is a project,” Pedrazo said. “You’re not going to come in here and win championships right away.” 

Pedrazo believes that Brennan is doing a great job of keeping the kids engaged, which is challenging since the team is losing the vast majority of their games by a significant margin. “It’s about the kids’ progression and development, not wins and losses,” Brennan said. 

This idea of focusing on long term goals and gradual improvement has helped the players keep a positive attitude throughout the season. “They’re not going to see [improvements] in a day, but they’re going to see it in a month because they’re going to have been playing against varsity level [opponents],” Brennan said. “The only thing that can do is help you as an athlete.” 

He also hopes that the students’ passion for basketball and having fun will lead them to improve, as they will be more likely to put in the effort to get better. 

Brennan and Pedrazo are very excited about the future of girls basketball at WIS. Pedrazo is planning to continue to run clinics in the spring and summer to make sure the girls stay engaged and confident. 

Brennan understands that no one likes losing every game, but he hopes the girls will remember that this is a process. “The ultimate goal is to keep those same girls engaged for one or two years, so next year we will have experienced ninth graders,” he said. 

Despite how difficult this season may have been thus far for the girls basketball team, there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel for the players that are sticking with it. Pedrazo intends to try out this process for other sports that are low on numbers, an issue more prevalent in girls sports. 

He is very hopeful that this long term strategy will work out for the girls basketball program, but recognizes there is still work to be done.“We need to really find a way to promote girls sports,” he said.

Overall, Brennan believes the benefits of the players’ experience vastly outweighs the drawbacks. “I’ve learned how tough these girls are,” he said. “No one can say they’ve done what [these players have] done.”

By Kas Salehi

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Kas Salehi
Kas Salehi, Sports Editor
Hi, I’m Kas. I’m a junior and this is my second year as the Sports Editor at Dateline. I have been writing for three years and I enjoy writing about personal stories and profiles within sports. Outside of Dateline I enjoy playing tennis and the guitar. 

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