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For the three seniors on the Williamstown girls’ basketball team, their time together has been sweet, on and off the court.
Mellissa Snow, Jaclyn Stith and Amber Vance became a family, sisters tied together by their common love of basketball.
“I love basketball because of the girls,” Vance said. “We are so close. Half the time, I think I’m closer to them than my family because I’m around them a ton during the season.”
“I like playing because it’s my place and my thing,” Snow said. “I can be whoever I want to be out on the court. The girls became my best friends and when I’m out on the court, I’m there with my family playing the game that I love.”
The girls have learned how to transfer the lessons they’ve learned on the hardwood to their lives off the court.
“Since basketball takes up so much time, it’s definitely helped me manage my time and get me prepared for college,” Vance said.
“For me, I set goals in basketball and I work hard towards those goals. I know that if I want to reach my goals in life, I’m going to have to work hard,” Stith said.
“I’ve got to remember that there are children looking up to me and I’ve got to make sure I’m living my life to the fullest and the right way,” Snow said.
After their season ended in the district tournament, the girls focused their attention to softball but still mourn the end of their high school careers on the court.
“It’s horrible. It’s really different. It’s become a part of our lives. It’s hard to find something to fill that void,” Snow said. “Because we are seniors and played ball together, I think it will be hard to forget about each other. Once we graduate, we’re going to stay in contact and talk because of basketball.”
“We’re trying to play softball right now, but everything refers back to basketball. It was the fastest season ever. I wouldn’t have picked anyone else to play with and graduate with,” Stith said.
“Knowing that we’re not going to be back next year is a big part of it. Last year was sad when the season was over, but I knew I was coming back this year. Now it’s the end,” Vance said. “I feel blessed that I’ve had this opportunity. High school would not have been the same if I hadn’t played basketball.”
“I’m sorry they are seniors,” coach Mark Wilhoit said. “They’ve been a part of the program for four to six years and they’ve helped it grow. They will be missed.”
The girls found a role model in their assistant coach, Kasey Kennedy, who inspired the girls with her attitude and her desire to see the girls improve with each practice and game.
“Kasey came in last year and we hit it off from the first day. She helped me realize that I could fall in love with the game and I could put my heart into it. She was the glue to our team. She was inspiring for us and always told us the positives,” Snow said.
“Kasey inspires me because she can’t play anymore because of her knee, but she still comes out every day and puts up with us girls. She finds the time for us and it makes me want to push myself harder and play while I can. It really helps me get going,” Vance said.
“She related to us as girls in a way that Mark couldn’t. I also look up to Chelsea Tolliver (a Simon Kenton senior guard). I just think she’s the greatest person ever,” Stith said.
The girls each have advice for younger players, as they hope they will continue to build on the success they have enjoyed while playing.
“Have fun and love the girls around you. Make sure you play hard. It makes it better,” Stith said.
“Definitely play through your senior year,” Vance said. “Don’t back out in the middle of a season. Keep your head high. Keep pushing yourself. Even if things don’t end how you want them to, it’s still the best experience you’ll have in high school.”
“When you’re out there and you’re playing, find something that motivates you and stick with it,” Snow said. “Even if it gets hard, you’ve got to push through it because not everything is going to be easy and nothing is going to be handed to you.”
The three seniors have enjoyed many moments together, but their favorites range from a game winning shot to meals at Golden Corral.
“I loved going out to eat and saying we’re from Williamstown. Going to Golden Corral, we always had so much fun,” Stith said.
“I didn’t ever get minutes on varsity and we were at the All ‘A’ in Gallatin County last year,” Snow said. “I got put in for like two seconds and hit the game-winning shot. That was when I realized that anything is possible and it doesn’t matter how many minutes you’re out there, but when you’re out there, you give it your all.”
“My favorite memory is probably during the summer when we went to Georgetown camp,” Vance said. “We had time off from seeing each other and the camp is when we had the chance to bond before the season started. It was fun to just go out and play together.”