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Notes from Amsterdam Avenue

“We Want a Trophy!” At the beginning of the 2017–2018 girls basketball season, winning a league title seemed like a pipe dream for the Girls Varsity Basketball team. The previous year, the Cougars had won only one game all season. “We weren’t expecting a lot, but we were expecting it to be fun, of course,” recalls co-captain Josie Macdonald ’18. The team started off well, winning a few games and staying competitive in all of them. A turning point was their game against St. Ignatius. The previous year they had gotten “absolutely crushed” by St. Ignatius, but the Cougars ended up blowing them out, with their suffocating defense holding St. Ignatius scoreless until the fourth quarter. The team began to realize their hot start was not just due to few lucky games; their ceiling was suddenly much higher. The foundation for the team’s success could be found in practice and off the court. “Many teams just try to make each person develop better as a player, but we tried to develop as a team,” says co-captain Alisha Faheem ’18. Despite having varied experience playing basketball, “we all knew each other’s playing style and how we could make each other better by combining our strengths.” Coach Scott Mesloh and Coach Shawna Altdorf were also instrumental in bringing the team together. “They were great coaches. They wanted us to have fun but also pressured us to do our best,” says Alisha. The team kept things loose in creating their own distinct identity. There were a lot of jokes and funny cheers between the girls and coaches. The day before a tournament at the Town School, Josie and a teammate


came up with a tongue-in-cheek call and response cheer: “Who wants a trophy?” “We want a trophy!” The Cougars ended up losing in the tournament final to Town, but they kept the cheer for the rest of the season. Their goal: a league title. The girls team finished the regular season undefeated in league play, securing a bye to the semifinals. After a relatively easy semifinal win, the Cougars faced off against the School at Columbia in the finals. Though they had beaten Columbia earlier in the season, the Cougars were definitely nervous in the big game. Down early in the first quarter, the team turned up their trademark aggressive defense they had played all year and pulled away to win 35-19. “We were all so proud of each other,” says Alisha. Of course, the trophy cheer came true. After the game, the team lifted it together and proudly showed it off to other students back at school. “It was a great way to finish the season off as an 8th grader,” Josie remembers. This momentum propelled the team into 2018-2019, an entirely undefeated season. Led by a dynamic group of 8th grade players, including Dalyn B., Stella G., and Caroline P., the team won the league championship after a thrilling rematch victory against the School at Columbia in the finals. “There were a lot of close games last year and this year, which gave the team great experience responding in pressure situations,” Coach Altdorf says. “This was a very mature team that was able to draw on these experiences and come together, to fantastic result.”  —Colin Murray


The Girls Varsity Basketball team rode a blend of humor, camaraderie, and burgeoning belief to two back-to-back league championships

2018 Girls Varsity Basketball captains Josie Macdonald ’18 and Alisha Faheem ’18


S P R I N G 2019

Profile for The Cathedral School of St. John the Divine

Cathedral Magazine (Spring 2019)