Nederland turns to veteran leaders in pressure moments
Published 12:06 am Tuesday, January 31, 2023
NEDERLAND — You hear the phrase “Veteran Leadership” often in sports, so much so that in many ways it has almost become a cliché.
A coach at any level, in any sport, wants players who the team can comfortably fall back on in big moments and know the right decisions will be made. For the Nederland Lady Bulldogs, this phrase rings truer than most.
Coming into the season Nederland boasted five seniors on the roster, three of which (Maggie Baker, Sydney Nelson and Ava Wiltz) would be four-year starters.
“I just want to contribute to the team anyway that I can so we can make a playoff run this year,” said Sydney Nelson when asked about her personal goals.
For Nelson this statement heavily represents her style of play. In years past, the Nederland power forward has functioned as a Swiss army knife for coach Jodie Walker, playing multiple positions to create mismatches all over the court. Nelson’s play is hardnosed and makes life easier for the rest of the team, doing the dirty work in the post to create opportunities for everyone else. But that’s not all she brings to the team.
“I think, having been here for four years, I’ve sort of stepped into some sort of a leadership role,” Nelson said. “Plus, my ability to rebound and play down low as a post are some things that I bring to the team.”
Every team needs a scrappy glue player and that is exactly what Nelson has proven to be. To compliment her bruising style, enter shooting guard Maggie Baker, who is an absolute flamethrower from the outside.
The senior sniper knocks down long range shots with ease, and with a 5’6’ frame and driving ability, has no problem getting to the rim. These attributes are what propels Baker into the team’s leading scorer this year. Baker is also a very vocal leader on the court.
“I just like to make sure that I am encouraging everyone on the court to do their best,” Baker said.
Nederland suffered a major blow this season when senior point guard Ava Wiltz suffered a season-ending injury earlier this year.
However, the Lady Bulldogs have fought on, with younger players stepping up for the upperclassmen to lean on.
— Written by Brett Strahan