Practice players support girls’ basketball during practice


Credit: Isabel Gitten

Pictured above is Amanda Cosenza, the girls’ basketball coach, talking to the team during a time out. Practice players from the Intramural Basketball League, IBL, have recently began to help the team practice.

Abby Mitty

The Wayland girls’ varsity basketball team has had successful seasons for the past few years. The players are known for their hard work and dedication. But, the team has a secret weapon that plays a role in their preparing for success: practice players.

The practice players are five boys from the IBL–the Intramural Basketball League–that come to part of every practice and act as opponents to the team as they scrimmage and run plays.

“They are definitely a key component to our success because of how hard they work to make us better,” senior captain Darby Leid said. “Playing against them is like playing the best team every day because of how competitive they are. They make us ready for every game we play, and give us confidence knowing that if we can play against them, we can play against any other team.”

The commissioner of the IBL, senior Conor Keating, along with four other players participate: seniors Haydn Davies, Ben Travis, Patrick Fennelly, and junior Gage Fuller.

“I think we help in a number of ways,” Keating said. “In general, the guys play at a faster tempo than the team, but by playing with us, they too start to play faster which will help [them] in games.”

Before practice players came to the girls’ practices, the girls team would usually run their plays on each other, which was not as effective because they all knew the plays. Practice players do not know the girls’ varsity team’s specific plays on offense and defense, so the girls can simulate a real game situation.

Fuller, known around WHS for his height, is a new member on the practice squad. Having him on the practice team offers a new challenge to his opponents.

“I think that we help the girls team out by simulating a team that might be faster or stronger than them, and that helps them learn how to deal with situations when the other team is physically more challenging,” Fuller said.

The difference in the ways the boys play in their IBL league and the way they play with the girls’ team varies slightly. The IBL league plays in a series of two games a week, with little organization and a loose configuration.

“There is a noticeable difference. In IBL we tend to either call our own fouls, or sometimes there’s a referee, but he tends to not call a lot of fouls so in terms of physicality, IBL is much more demanding,” Keating said.

However, this difference doesn’t affect how the boys play.

“They are selfless,” Leid said. “They are committed to helping us get better, not just to show off and prove that they are better than us. They listen to Coach Cosenza’s instructions and are flexible when helping us with specific situations.”

Being a practice player doesn’t only help the girls team, but according to Fuller, it brings a sense of excitement and more intensity to practices. The boys become part of the team, which makes the chemistry as they play better.

“Honestly, it’s awesome,” Keating said. “As an athlete without a winter sport, this is probably the best-case scenario for how to pass the winter. [We get to play] a sport we all love and at the same time, help out a legitimate varsity team.”