Editor’s Note: To all who were interviewed, thank you for such a great conversation!
Off the team’s three consecutive wins, the Vigornia decided to sit down on the 11th of December with Coach Aseem Rastogi and members of the Varsity Girls’ Basketball team: Penn State commit Cam Rust, junior Elyse MacDonough, sophomore Ella Getz, and junior Saige Youngberg. They not only described their journey throughout the season so far but also the secret to their team’s success.
Upon arrival at Coach Rastogi’s office, we were immediately struck by the team’s friendliness and welcoming energy. This interview truly felt like a mutually appreciated conversation.
We started our interview by discussing the team’s active social media presence with the account manager himself: Coach Rastogi. Drawing inspiration from college and professional basketball teams, Coach Rastogi emphasized how the team’s social media is “trying to highlight our kids as best as possible.” Creating a fanbase, especially in female sports, is “not just [about] the product on the court or on the field but the connection between players and the people who are watching them.” Coach Rastogi described how Semester One posts will mostly consist of the WA Girls’ Basketball account displaying their players’ personalities, while Semester Two posts will transition into mostly basketball-based content.
The popularity of their recurring segment, “Mic’d Up Players”, has helped the growing fanbase for the Girls’ Basketball team, as well. When asked about whether or not there will be more of these fun clips, there was a resounding yes! Lucky for us “Mic’d Up” fans, Coach Rastogi expects to have every player featured at least once, with Youngberg and freshman Sadie Metzger in the foreseen future. Cam Rust, senior forward, suggested mic’d up practices, which could lead to many laughs, as well as some possible bleeps!
Rastogi also spoke about the team’s growing notoriety, and how their budding fanbase has been used to shed more light on the Girls’ Varsity Basketball team. He described how, “the more we can get eyes on our team doing what they do, the more that people will want to be a part of what we have going on.” Players also chimed in, suggesting the making of a highlight video from JNRFilms (run by junior Jack Rosen, who showcases sports specific content).
Rust then made a suggestion for an addition to their social media, such as a bench highlight reel. She noted how she often finds herself motivated and supported by her teammates on the bench as she plays. We think this suggestion perfectly depicts the sportsmanlike dynamics of the team, which is a direct contributor to their sense of unification and success.
Beyond social media, one of the main components of our conversation was not only highlighting players’ strengths, but also who they are as people. “I don’t ever go home in a bad mood because they’re hilarious,” Rastogi said. “Everything they do is funny.”
It is clear that it’s not just the talent but the community of people that make the Girls’ Basketball program here at WA so special.
Coach Rastogi went into this idea of player personality further by talking about his priorities for his team and its members. He states that he would prefer to lose with a team of good kids than win with a team of poor character. This philosophy is more than admirable and one that explains why exactly this team is full of such good individuals with regards to both athleticism and personality.
This connection between the members of Worcester Academy’s Varsity Girls’ team has fostered their friendships and unity off the court, as well. The team has taken part in various activities on the Hilltop, including the Flag Football Tournament this past fall. In the tournament, a team of WA Girls’ Basketball players assembled to take on the competition and have some athletic fun. The event was clearly an exciting one as players spoke about their participation glowingly.
It hasn’t all been positive for the team though. During our conversation, players also addressed some unsavory comments they’ve received in response to the team’s success, with backhanded statements underestimating them, along the lines of, “wow, I didn’t expect you guys to be that good.” Although insulting, these comments have
motivated the team to show their athletic prowess and deservedly earn praise from Worcester Academy fans alike. For instance, the team garnered 80 points in both of their Blackburn Tournament games. Both! If you are unfamiliar with the dynamics of basketball, we want you to know that this is not a feat easily accomplished.
It is clear to see why WA’s Girls’ Basketball team has reached such success this 2023-2024 season, both in terms of social media impact and on the court. They are a strong group of talented individuals ready to take on the competition. As part of the NEPSAC Class AA Division, the team is sure to have some exciting games well worth the watch this year.
The Hilltoppers will take on Rivers on Sunday, January 14 at 7:00 pm at TD Garden. The girls will need the support of the entire WA community to help them bring home the win, so show up and show out (in style and in the neon theme!). Players have compared this upcoming game against Rivers to their previous match against Tilton in the Blackburn Tournament Championship to be just as, if not even more, exciting. We hope to see you all there, WA!