Despite a rocky start to the season, Andover hopes to defend its title as New England Champions under the adept leadership of Jamie Shenk ’12 and Chelsea Ward ’12.
Andover has made several exciting comebacks this season, but instead of being satisfied with come-from-behind wins, Shenk and Ward are determined to bring their team to a level where it can get ahead and stay ahead. Despite a strong core of returners, Andover has sometimes struggled to play cohesively.
Working with Ward to unite the team, Shenk said, “We’ve had some trouble this year with injuries or people missing games because of other commitments, so it has been kind of hard to all come together in these first weeks.”
This season, Andover jumped out to a 3-0 record with a notable 3-2 win over rival Hotchkiss, but the team then fell in a scrimmage against Andover High and proceeded to have an uncharacteristic two-game loss streak. Nevertheless, after last week’s impressive showing against Exeter, the team seems to have bounced back and boasts a 7-3 record.
Shenk said, “I think we need to keep developing and coming together as a team. We won the championship last year by being comfortable with everyone on the court and being a really cohesive unit as a team. We’re not completely there yet this year, but it’s not out of reach, and I think that once we achieve that, everything will fall into place.”
Both Andover captains bring several years of experience to the team. Shenk fell in love with the sport in fifth grade and has played ever since. Ward has been playing since first grade because of influence from her big sister and because she “liked the colorful socks and other apparel.”
Especially in recent weeks, the two captains’ dynamic has worked to Andover’s advantage. Shenk said, “[Chelsea] is always bouncing, literally, around the court, bopping to her music or just whatever music she has in her head. On the court she never stops hustling. No ball falls on the court without her hitting the ground, and she really knows how to lead the team by example.”
Ward said, “Jamie is a great co-captain and strong leader. I can always count on her to give her all for every play.” The relationship between the two has grown stronger over the course of their three consecutive seasons playing together. Connecting well on their sets and hits, Ward and Shenk are a force to be reckoned with.
According to Ward, the key to success is “playing like we want to win.” Ward is convinced that this mindset “will make all the difference.”