Yoncalla — Sitting at 17-3 this season and second place in the Skyline League, the Yoncalla Eagles are a Top 10 team with a very unique quality: Having only five girls on the entire roster. Yep, all their girls play every minute of every game, a test of their resiliency and toughness on their team that comes out every night. There are many impressive things about these ladies, everything from their offense to defense to stamina stand out with Yoncalla, but it is their culture and attitude that really shines for the Eagles. Here is a dive into the possibly the only 1A team to make Baker with five girls on the team.
Their star is Nichole Noffsinger, a 5’10” post/wing combo that is their scoring machine on the floor. She leads the charge and uses whatever advantage she has to take opponents for a ride on the floor, whether it be by putting up massive point totals or recording a double-double on the game. Senior Alison Van Loon is just as big of a threat for Yoncalla, she can put up the numbers that Noffsinger can on any given night, especially if you can contain Noffsinger but it is hard to contain both. You can’t knock Van Loon’s hustle on the floor, she is constantly looking to retrieve the ball off the shot and keep plays alive for the Eagles. On defense, Yoncalla doesn’t do anything special at all, they just play in your face and dare you to beat them, limiting opportunities for runs and points in transition. It is a simple, effective method that helps preserve their energy and keeps up their stamina in the long haul of things.
Katie Blanchfill, Cecilia Phillips, and Heaven Stevens might be overlooked on many teams because of their stat sheet looks but believe me when I say that they are very integral to the success at Yoncalla. This trio does their job on the floor: Grabbing rebounds, putting up their share of points, guarding their opponents, getting the ball around and distributed to the scorers, being completely selfless by putting the team first over themselves. The chemistry and selflessness of this team is what makes them successful, it is a simple, yet powerful method that shows in every aspect of how they play. This is how you become successful with only the minimum number of players to field a team, and it is honestly something that blows the mind of an average person.
Too many teams fail because there are too many characters, not enough teammates and team players. Our culture indulges itself in the idea of the superstar: Being the face of a dynasty, selling the most jerseys, or being the most popular with fans. It is a toxic mindset, one that has been engrained into the minds of young people as something to idolize, when it really just destroys chemistry and a team culture. At Yoncalla, there are no “I’s” on this roster, only “us” and “Eagles” on the floor. How far they’ll go is ultimately up to them, but they are an example program that many players and coaches should take notes on. Honestly, we should all strive to be like Yoncalla: Selfless, team players, sharing in successes instead of soaking up spotlight like a sponge. Keep flying Eagles, it will be exciting to see where you end up at this year!