Rising star: Kareem Earl ’24

As the only freshman on the boys varsity basketball squad, Kareem Earl ’24 reflects on his first high school season.

West Side Story: When did you start playing basketball? 

Kareem Earl: I started playing basketball when I was 3 years old. My dad used to coach and train other basketball players so I was always with him with a basketball in my hand.

WSS: What different teams have you played on? 

KE: I’ve been on many basketball teams throughout my years of playing basketball. From my dads team, to local club teams, to national teams. Right now I am on Iowa Barnstormers and a national team out of Cali.

Kareem Earl ’24 takes a shot behind the arc against Dubuque Senior on Feb. 2. (Owen Aanestad)

WSS: How does it feel to play in your first season during COVID? 

KE: To be honest, it is a little weird because when you think of high school basketball or just high school sports in general, you think of big crowds, filled student sections, playing games 2-3 times a week without getting canceled. But I am very thankful for the people who run high school sports for letting us play. I do feel bad for the seniors because this is their last season playing and they have to end it with playing limited games.

WSS: Who are some of your biggest mentors right now and why?

KE: I would say my mom, dad, Coach Bergman and my West High teammates who are teaching me what they know. My mom and dad are my biggest supporters. They’ve been with me through it all so they are constantly giving me advice and always making sure I’m doing the right thing. Coach Bergman is one of the best coaches in Iowa and I would say one of the best coaches I’ve had throughout my basketball career. The way he’s so involved through basketball makes him great along with his high basketball IQ and awareness of the game. My West High teammates have been a great resource since I’ve been here at West.

WSS: What is it like being a freshman on the varsity basketball team? Were you nervous about joining the team as a freshman? 

KE: To be honest, I try not to think about it too much because I feel like it can be an excuse not to work harder than others. One of the positives is that being a freshman I get to learn from the older players. I wasn’t nervous but more excited that I get to learn from my coaches and players who have been there.

WSS: What are some goals you have, either individually or as a whole? 

KE: Well of course making it to state, and then eventually winning state. I feel like we have a lot of potential to win state.  Another goal I have is to do everything I can to help my team in any way I can on the court both offensively and defensively.

WSS: What are you looking forward to in the next few years on the basketball team?

KE: I am looking forward to having a normal season. I’m also looking forward to the years I’ll have left. I’ve heard high school goes by fast so I’ll take advantage of the opportunities I’ll have.