Gull Lake Homeschool Partnership junior, Anna Miner, moved to the district from Indiana this past summer, when her dad took a job at Gull Lake Ministries.
“It was hard for me, I mean I lived in the same spot for my whole life so it was really different and I didn’t really know what I would do for school because I had been at the same school for my whole life,” Miner said. “I didn’t really know what to expect when I moved up here.”
Miner’s old high school–The King’s Academy in Jonesboro, Indiana–had 70 students. Miner said she wasn’t ready to attend Gull Lake High School (which has close to 1,000 students) when she first moved here.
“My old school was super small, there were only about 70 people in the high school, and I didn’t want to do a jump to [a school with] close to 1,000 people,” Miner said. “I didn’t really have another school option that seemed to fit me either, so we decided to do the partnership thing.”
Miner took a step out of her comfort zone when she decided to try out for the Gull Lake basketball team.
“I wasn’t actually planning on doing anything with Gull Lake, but then I went back to Indiana for a visit, and I met with my old basketball coach and she basically told me straight up that I had to [try out for basketball],” Miner said. “Along with a bit of persuasion from my parents, I went out for tryouts, and I made it somehow.”
According to Miner, the King’s Academy didn’t hold tryouts for basketball teams, so she was incredibly nervous for her tryout–and did not expect she was going to make varsity.
“I was so nervous, that might’ve been the most scared I’ve ever been in my life,” Miner said. “It was so terrifying–I almost just didn’t go but that week of tryouts was so long.”
Since Miner didn’t expect to make the team, she said she didn’t try that hard to get to know the other players during tryout week.
“They were nice, I remember that, and I made sure I knew everyone’s name,” Miner said. “But I kinda stood by myself because I was so nervous. I had no human interaction; I was like, ‘No, I’m not talking to anyone.’”
Miner’s teammate, Gull Lake junior Sarah Grimes, said Miner made her nervous herself during tryouts.
“I was definitely a little apprehensive of Anna to begin with, just because she is so tall, and I was nervous about having to compete with her for a spot on the team,” Grimes said.
When Gull Lake basketball coach Mike Balcom first met Miner, he was impressed by her strength and her sense of humor.
“Anna’s physical strength was immediately apparent, and even in the short conversation we had, her wonderful sense of humor was evident,” Balcom said.
According to Miner, the most challenging part about playing basketball for Gull Lake was adjusting to the competitive atmosphere present in athletic programs in bigger schools.
“I never played on a team where everyone was better than me, which was the case when I came to Gull Lake and that was a little bit of a challenge just because I had to step up my game even to just compete at practice, so that was really different,” Miner said.
After making the team, Miner began building relationships with the other players–and often used gum as a conversation starter.
“I found out that if you carry gum, it’s a very good way to make relationships and friendships,” Miner said. “But yeah it didn’t ever seem hard to build a relationship with anyone on the team, and even though I don’t know if I had one specific bond with any one person, it wasn’t weird if I talked to any of them at some point which was nice.”
The first time Grimes spoke to Miner was when she asked for a piece of gum, she said.
“I think the first time I actually talked to her was asking for a piece of gum, and she pulled out about seven different flavors, and asked me which kind,” Grimes said.
Despite a setback from an injury early in the season, Miner grew over the course of the season as an athlete and personally.
“She started out quiet, but quickly became more involved with team dynamics,” Grimes said. “I started sitting next to her on the bench, and it was awesome how involved she was with each game, even though the had to sit out most of December due to an injury.”
Miner said her jump shot and ball handling skills improved throughout the season.
“I used to just rely on overpowering people and getting a layup but I couldn’t always do that with the girls on my team and so I had to actually figure out how to shoot a jump shot,” Miner said.
Miner’s encouragement and positivity made her an essential part of the team, according to Grimes and Balcom.
“My goal was to be that person on the bench who people could talk to or just cheer really loud on the bench,” Miner said.
The team has a mantra “DTRT” which stands for “Do The Right Thing, ”which, according to Balcom, Miner displays on and off the court.
“The way she listens to coaching advice and tries her best to improve on the court, the way she encourages her teammates and coaches in practices and games indicates that she embraces ‘DTRT’,” Balcom said.
According to Grimes, Miner’s enthusiasm was contagious.
“The energy she provided on and off the court was essential in a number of our wins,” Grimes said. “Personally, Anna’s enthusiasm transferred to me as well, so in turn I became more involved in the game.”
Balcom agreed that Miner influenced her teammates and her coaches alike.
“Her positive perspective on life and basketball has influenced all of us on the team,” Balcom said. “Couple that with her great work ethic and her wonderful sense of humor and it is safe to say that Anna has influenced all of us in a positive way over the season.”