Captain Amanda Simard ’13 has used her four years of varsity experience to lead Andover Girls Basketball through a turbulent 7-7 season.
Earlier in the season, Simard was vital in the team’s three-game winning streak against Rivers, Choate and Brewster.
Although Andover has lost its past two games and only has three games left this season, Simard has hope that the team can win its remaining games and play well in the postseason tournament.
Simard’s experience on past teams has helped shape her goals for Andover this season.
“I think this year our biggest focus was to bring the team together. We have a lot of individual talent, but I don’t think that we can be a great team if we don’t work hard to collaborate and work together,” said Simard. “Our biggest asset is each other, and our biggest challenge is also each other.”
“We have a lot of team dinners, team meetings and team bonding,” Simard added. “We are a really close team, and I know that I have, and the other Seniors and the coaches have, been working really hard to bring the team together as close as possible.”
Simard’s father played basketball, and he encouraged her to start playing when she was only in kindergarten. From a young age, Simard said, “I always took practices way too seriously and was very excited to play each practice. I even made signs for my team and put them up in my room because I loved basketball from the start.”
Simard added, “In 5th grade, I started getting more serious about basketball, and I started playing on a travel team. I played on my town team, and I remember being so excited when I made the travel team. I got really close with the girls on my team, and [for] the next four years I played with the same group of girls.”
“[Simard] is a fierce competitor willing to lead by example, but she also keeps the game in perspective and knows how to have fun. Like all Andover students, she has days when she’s worn down by the grind of schoolwork and other demands, but she always comes to practice with ebullience,” said Head Coach Lewis Robinson. “She knows how much the team counts on her to be positive and constructive, and her banter is consistently supportive.”
“She’s our most consistent mid-range shooter. She hits big shots when we need her to. She’ll get down on the court to fight for a loose ball,” he added.
In Simard’s opinion, Andover’s last two losses against Exeter, 49-59, and Tabor, 44-77, do not reflect the teams effort or ability. “Our record does not show how good we are. We can be a really good team,” she added.
Lewis said, “After a loss, Amanda channels her frustrations in a mature and selfless way. She does whatever she can to make our practices focused and productive. I’ll continue to rely on her as we head into our final three games with a chance to make the tournament.”
Andover has improved since the beginning of the season and is only going to keep getting better in the next few weeks, according to Simard. She said, “Yesterday, we watched a film of one of the first games of the season, and it was hard to watch. We have definitely improved. Our individual skills have gotten significantly better, and we have gained confidence on the court. As a team, we have learned how each teammate plays, and this allows us to pass more and run the ball more.”
Simard does not plan on playing basketball in college, and she is already feeling nostalgic about her last season playing competitive basketball for Andover.
“I am going to miss playing basketball and the girls on the team. We laugh so much and have so much fun together. I really hope we stay in touch throughout the spring, and I will definitely come back to visit next year. I’m not only going to miss the sport, but I am going to miss the team as well,” she said.