Girls Basketball Coaches, Players Explain What Goes Into a Championship


Frannie Wied, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Notre Dame Academy Girls Basketball won the Division 2 State Championship for the third year in a row, bringing pride to NDA. 

“Winning three consecutive state championships is very difficult to do, so I was really proud of our entire crew when it actually happened,” said Head Varsity Coach Sara Rohde on winning the championship. 

Rohde has been coaching basketball for 16 years and was hired at NDA in 2011 as the girls’ JV1 coach and became head varsity coach a year later. She was drawn into NDA by her love of the players, and coming here was a “perfect opportunity.” 

“It’s a lot of happiness from the coaches to the players to their families,” said Assistant Coach Eliza Campbell on winning the championship. “It’s fun watching the girls reach their goals and the work Sara puts in getting recognized.”

In order to win a state championship three years in a row, a lot of hard work and dedication takes place behind the scenes. There are many sacrifices that are made for the team that most people don’t even know about, and this was something that Campbell emphasized. 

The bottom line is no one really understands the amount of time these girls put in,” said Campbell. 

The season goes over Thanksgiving and Christmas break, where they have limited off time, along with having to relinquish their spring break due to the overlap of the state championship games. This doesn’t even begin to cover the details of their summer or how their practices go. 

“Sacrifices are a part of sports, and I know that, but I do like people to know the time and sacrifices they make,” said Campbell. 

Along with all of the team sacrifices, the coaches also sacrifice a lot for the team. One of the most challenging parts of Rohde’s job is the time. Between coaching basketball, being a mom, and being a teacher, there is a lot to balance with many people depending on her. She says that this becomes especially tricky during the season. 

“It’s a year-round job, but if you want to be successful, it’s very necessary,” said the head coach. 

Campbell says that there are a lot of variables that go into having a good program and that there is a “misconception that all coaching consists of is practice and games.” 

There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work (that isn’t recognized) from the coaches, like communicating with the parents and school, running the youth program, being present at summer events, planning trips and games, and that’s barely the beginning. There are so many variables and factors that go into coaching. 

Even with all of the challenges and commitments, there is an abundance of fulfilling factors that come with being a coach. Rohde says one of the most rewarding parts of her job is “building relationships with the players and families” and watching their players succeed. 

These close relationships are one of the team’s many strengths, and the team chemistry is what player Gracie Grzesk, junior, believes is one of their biggest assets. Grzesk plans on continuing her basketball career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She described winning her third state championship as “surreal.” 

“I was very excited and emotional, and a lot of thoughts were going through my head,” said Grzesk. 

Fellow team member Hope Barrington, senior, also thinks that their team chemistry, along with work ethic and perseverance, is what led to their third state championship. She started playing basketball in second grade and plans on playing basketball at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. 

Our team chemistry was good not only on the court but also off the court. We did lots of team bonding and fun activities outside of basketball, which helped us get to know each other even better, which translated into our games. These things all contributed to bringing home the gold ball,” said Barrington. 

Rohde describes herself as competitive, so staying motivated and creating new goals comes by nature. She says that although winning is fun, achieving and sustaining this requires a lot of time and effort. The girls on the team know what it takes, and it isn’t hard to convince them of what is necessary to succeed. Their main goal is to keep improving as the season goes on. 

“I have high expectations of myself and our program. We know there will always be someone who is working to try and beat us, and we can’t settle for anything less than our best if we want to sustain a high level of success,” said Rohde.