Before

Grace Christopher

Lexi Shaffer, Reporter

West Side Story: When did you first start playing basketball? What made you want to start?

Rachael Saunders: I started when I was in fifth grade. My dad’s friend coached a local basketball team and [he told me] to go out and try it, and I did.

WSS: Who is your biggest supporter?

RS: My dad and my mom. They get me everywhere and they come to every tournament and practice. They usually pump me up before a game and then they tell me what I did great and what I didn’t do as well.

WSS: What is your best memory from last season?

RS: Last season was really fun. My team was really nice and great and we worked really well together. I think one of my best memories is when we beat Southeast Polk in the first round [of state] with Danielle Craig’s ’15 [three pointer] towards the end of the game. That was . . . a really great team moment.

WSS: What are you looking forward to this season?

RS: I’m looking forward to our team building. We have a pretty young team this year so I’m looking forward to us growing together and hopefully doing well together. I’m a little nervous about not having last year’s seniors here this year, but I think we will do fine together and I think out coaches will prepare us well.

Give 150 percent. Give more than you think you can and play to the best of your ability.”

— Rachael Saunders '18

WSS: What is your favorite part about basketball? About basketball at West?

RS: My favorite part about basketball is the competitiveness of the sport and winning a game… but also learning from a loss. My favorite part about West High basketball is our team. We are really close and we do everything together during the season.

WSS: What are you hoping to improve by the end of this season?

RS: Personally I hope to be a better leader this year. I also hope our team can become a well-oiled machine and do all that we can.

WSS: Do you play club? If so, then how has that helped you while playing at West?

RS: I play for the Iowa Barnstormers. It helps me stay in shape over the summer because we don’t do much with high school basketball. It has also helped me to get stronger and be more competitive so I can apply that to our game pace during the high school season.

WSS: What motivates you when you have a bad game or practice?

RS: Just the thought that maybe that could be your last mistake. And knowing that you can learn from it and hopefully not make the same mistake in the next game. Or if I have an off game then I just say, “The next game will be better, I’m going to make it better than this game.”

WSS: Do you feel any extra pressure being an underclassman on the varsity team?

RS: I get along with the seniors and juniors really well so it’s not that hard being younger and I really value their opinions. No [ I don’t feel any extra pressure]. I think being part of a team, you all have contribute what you can. They don’t expect more that I can give.

WSS: What’s the best piece of advice a teammate or a coach has given you?

RS: Give 150 percent. Give more than you think you can and play to the best of your ability.