Another year of basketball marks another opportunity for student athletes to improve their leadership skills.
For the Tri-City United girls basketball team, those leaders are seniors Erica Jackson and Grace Factor and junior Sam Lang.
“It’s an honor,” said Jackson on being selected as a team captain by her teammates.
The three captains have played basketball for as long as they can remember and that experience is paying off in their high school careers. Factor, a senior forward, earned all-conference honorable mention last season in the Minnesota River Conference. Meanwhile, senior guard Erica Jackson and junior guard Sam Lang are returning as letter winners.
Still, the team has a challenging season ahead of them with an inexperienced roster, so the varsity team, b-squad and c-squad are starting practices early to get into playing shape.
“[Practices] have been pretty good,” said Lang. “We’ve been coming together as a team and getting better every day.”
“The eighth graders are in here, too, so it’s nice to have the whole program working together for the first week,” Factor added.
“We’ve been going longer hours the first week, so we can get more in shape for upcoming games,” Jackson added.
With all the teams working together, the team captains have already had opportunities to work with young and inexperienced players.
“The younger kids are nervous to come here,” said Factor. “I remember when we were younger, I was nervous too.”
“I think they’re starting to warm up to the older girls,” added Jackson. “We also have a sophomore who has never played basketball.”
These team captains don’t stop being active when they’re off the basketball court. Jackson and Lang both recently finished seasons on the Tri-City United girls tennis and volleyball teams respectively, and both of them served as team captains. Jackson even took home all-conference honors in tennis and qualified as an academic all-state individual. Factor and Jackson also run track in the spring.
At the end of the day, though, the girls keep coming back to basketball. For Lang, her love for the sport comes from being on a team she can call a family. For Jackson, it’s a love of basketball itself. But for Factor, it’s all about the competition.
“I like being competitive,” said Factor. “You can be mean in basketball.”
The Titans first game is Tuesday, Nov. 26 at Fairmont.