Freshman dominates first season of Fossil Basketball on varsity

Karen Manley

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Ashley Steffeck (green) dominates against the older girls. Photo Credit: Karen Manley

The Fossil Ridge 2015-16 Girls Basketball season is in full swing and the varsity team has maintained a winning record with the help of this year’s only freshman, Ashley Steffeck. Her first high school game on December 16 against Pine Creek, was nowhere near the beginning of her career.  

Her journey began as a five year old Windsor Rec player in 2005.  Since then, it has been a rotating cast of rec, school, and club teams of various skill levels. All her hard work payed off, and 10 years later, she has a starting slot on the varsity team here at Fossil Ridge. Such an extensive background of basketball has molded her into the incredible player she is today, and she has rightly earned every second of game time.

It’s rare a player makes varsity their first year, so Steffeck is incredibly proud. But even with the success, she has stayed very humble. “Being a freshman on varsity is a neat experience. I’m very thankful for the opportunity and I hope to make an impact,” she said.

Steffeck realizes the age difference between her and her teammates, and sees it as an opportunity to learn from the older girls. Many of the seniors have scholarships to top basketball schools, and she sees her opportunity to play alongside them as an honor.

But even when playing with such talented player, she is able to stay confident in her own skills. “For Fossil, I play point guard and shooting guard. I like being able to have my hands on the ball and control the tempo of the game. I’ve played the same position all 10 years, so I’ve learned a lot and am comfortable with it,” Steffeck said.

As a general rule, freshman have a hard time fitting in with the upperclassmen. With such a broad age gap between them, it’s understandable the juniors and seniors have a hard time getting along with the younger kids. But Steffeck has had a different experience. Her older sister, Sami, is a senior on the team. “The upperclassmen are very accepting. It probably helped having my sister on the team because I knew most of the girls beforehand. All of the older girls are fun and I felt very comfortable from the start with them.”

She and her sister are overjoyed to be on the court together for Sami’s final Fossil Ridge season, before she goes to continue her years of basketball at South Dakota School of Mines in the fall. The Steffeck sisters have spent many hours improving their skills together growing up, but playing for the Fossil Team together takes it to a whole new level. “I love playing with my sister,” Steffeck said, “She’s taught me a lot of what I know, so I like being able to show her how much I’ve grown since the beginning of my career.”

Ashley knows the value of her position, as colleges are always keeping an eye on young high schoolers through their years of varsity ball. “As a freshman, I haven’t thought much about which college I’d like to go to. However, I do know that I want to continue to play after high school, so I have to give every game 100%. It can be stressful at times, but the trick is to keep your head totally in the game, and be able to move on after something goes differently than you planned.”

Like any other sport, basketball has its hard parts. “Sometimes, you’ll be about to make the play of the game, or do something you’ve been dreaming of doing since you were a little girl, and you’ll completely blow it. It can be hard to block out the sign of disappointment in the gym, but you have to get back up and keep pushing. You won’t be any help to your team if you spend the whole game caught up in one moment. Games need to be won and lost together, as a team.”

Basketball is a team sport. No single player can win the game for everyone else, and no loss can be entirely one player’s fault. Steffeck, of all people, knows this after such a long career in basketball. She knows her value to her team and plans to do everything she can to help win for the remainder of the season.