Changing Courts

Change is a constant in sport. Players have to react and adapt to changes they can’t control and stay committed to their team. Outside of the game, changes made do not deter athletes but motivate them to perform better.

After the 2022 season, the basketball team moved to the 5A classification from the 6A classification. Sticking to their game plan, they ventured through a new division. Opponents change, but the desire to win and play good basketball never changes. 

In this case, the new division did not bring new changes to the team. The players and coaches tried to stick to their identity. Head basketball coach Mr. Todd Ezzi said, “I don’t think we changed our philosophies or strategies necessarily. I don’t think there was much change in the opponent and the way our players viewed games. I think it was pretty similar to what it was before.”

The change made coaches adapt to the change of scenery. The transition let coaches absorb the 5A division to prepare for the future. Mr. Ezzi said, “I do know that top to bottom, competing against smaller schools than we were in the 6A division did have some differences. It allowed us to be more competitive and consistent against the teams we were playing. We picked up things and we had a new set of teams to scout and prepare for.”

The coaches think all the teams that had to switch divisions will have the same amount of transition work. Mr. Ezzi said, “Traditionally, we have competed against Conway for the last twenty-five years, so knowing the coaches you play against makes it a little easier to prepare because you know what to expect. I think next season we will have a better idea going into playing against these teams about what to expect out of them. That being said, they probably had to do the same thing as us, so it makes for an even playing field.”

Senior basketball player Reuben [CJ] Onyekwelu said, “There wasn’t much of a change. We still had to compete at the end of the day. We didn’t really care who was in front of us. We were always going to play hard. We were more focused on becoming the best team we could be.”

The players and coaches had no say on the decision to change Arkansas Athletic Association divisions. They kept focus on making sure they would be ready for the upcoming season. They controlled what they could and did not worry about what they could not control. Mr. Ezzi said, “I was fine with either decision. One of the things that we preach in our program is try to control the things that you can. However, the division change was out of our control. It wasn’t something we wanted to happen or didn’t want to happen. We just took it in stride and tried to be the best that we can be in every  single competition.”

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