Boys and Girls High School has developed one of the most prestigious boys' basketball programs. Coached by Ruth Lovelace, these talented young men have won the state championship and are now three-time city champs. Ranked first in the AA Division and twenty-sixth nationally, the Kangaroos are currently defending their title as they embark on possibly retaining their crown.
Coach Lovelace, who started her basketball career at a young age, knows the dedication and hard work it takes to be a top-notch team. Starting to play in sixth grade at an after-school center, Lovelace had no clue what to expect. At the time she was only chosen to play because there were not enough players. "I didn't know how to play," she says. "I was just told to shoot the ball in the basket before the other team," she continues. Equipped with those simple instructions and a basketball, she sought to nurture and develop her abilities.
Her talent and hard work drove her to success, as she continued to play in high school. There she became a high school All-City player and furthered her basketball career in college, as she attended Seaton Hall University. A fractured kneecap ended her career as a ball player, but it did not inhibit her tenure on the court. "I never saw myself as a coach...but I was always a leader. I loved sports. After studying liberal arts and finally majoring in health and physical education, I got offered a coaching job," she recalls.
Even after 19 seasons at Boys and Girls High School, Lovelace continues to emphasize a balance of schoolwork with athletics. She reminds her athletes that "school comes first," and that "you can't play forever." Her top priority is to "raise great young men, who will one day be great citizens." She emphatically states, "I want to enforce discipline within them, leadership skills and dedication in whatever they do." Most importantly however, she aims to raise leaders off the court, and teach her athletes the value of being on time, being consistent every day and living respectfully.
The greatest attribute of the relationship this coach has with her team is that she sees so much of herself in her athletes. "We live similar lives," Lovelace states. As she comes in early for work, so do her athletes for school. While working her 9-5, they are working in class. After school, study hall sessions are held, in which they can work on their academics. Practice then starts at 5 p.m. and continues to 8 p.m. She states similarly "In both mine and their lives, most of our time is spent in school."
When it comes to the team however, even with star players like Leroy "Truck" Fludd, Rashard Andrews, Brice Jones, Shakur Pinder, Joel Angus and many others gone, the Kangaroos are still determined to take home the win this year. Senior Wesley Myers, a four-year veteran, definitely looks forward to a successful season, as he has been playing for quite a while. He recalls his basketball career starting at the age of eight. From watching it on television, looking up to Michael Jordan and watching his cousins play, he soon grew a newfound interest in basketball. He admits growing up he always took notice of the potential he saw coming out of Boys and Girls High School and knew that this was where he wanted to attend high school.
Being on the team since freshman year, and moving up to varsity his sophomore year, there is no doubt Myers has what it takes to lead his team to victory. He continues to say, "This year my goal is to make it to the championships...I expect for us to win PSAL Champs, win states and I hope to become player of the year. I'm also working on committing to a college." So far Myers has revealed that he is looking at Texas, Stony Brook, Miami, St. Johns and a few other colleges.
Myers admits however that this year will be different. He acknowledges that the team has to work hard to become unified. When asked how it feels with many of the star players from the previous years gone, Myers replied, "I feel lonely sometimes. It's like a part of my family is now gone. Though the chemistry now is not the same, we will work on getting it back."
When asked if he was still confident in his team this year, he simply stated "On the top it's just us! The High has already been named three time champs. We know there is work to do and we are ready to WORK." This idea resonates in the advice he shares with any new comers and/or freshmen with hoop dream. "If you put in work, you will achieve...Hard work beats talent any day. Also, you have to know not everyone is your enemy. Friendship gets you a long way. Be humble," he modestly states. He also shares that this attitude is one he was able to develop with the dedication and consistency of his coach. "Love has been like my mom. She has taught me to harness the tools and to stay humble on and off the court... that will stay with me forever."
The Kangaroos are definitely ready for all this year has to offer. Confident in their work ethics and in each other, these 'Roos have known what it takes to be champions and are determined to go for the title one more time. The sky's the limit for these athletes, and with a coach like Ms. Lovelace, there's no reason why it wouldn't be this way.