After 63 years on the sidelines and in the stands, the Luther girls’ basketball team is saying ‘hello from the other side’ as they step onto the court at the Luther Invitational Tournament (LIT).
Walking down the hall to the new gymnasium at Luther High School, posters of LIT photos highlight six decades of boys’ basketball. This year the girls’ basketball team will take their own place in history.
Angela Bongomin is thrilled to be on the first team girls team to play competitively at LIT.
“I think it’s really exciting and it’s really humbling actually because there’s going to be so many girls that look at you in the future and are like yeah this is where it all kind of started,” the Grade 12-student explained.
She says they have a very strong team but sometimes they get overlooked being from such a small school and this will give them a chance to showcase their skills.
“I think girls’ basketball is demoted a lot and it’s not shown as important or as competitive as boys’ basketball, but I think now that we’re in this tournament it kinda shows girls that yeah we are and we’ve kinda proven that we deserve to be here,” Bongomin said.
The girls even wrote and choreographed a song for the school pep rally changing lyrics from Adele’s hit song ‘Hello’ to say “I think we asked a thousand times” and “you should be sorry for waiting this long”.
Last year, the girls’ team played an exhibition game during the tournament, but this year they will have their own competitive round-robin tournament with four teams.
Fellow senior, Emily Reaume, can’t wait to show everyone what girls can do on the basketball court.
“It’s such an amazing feeling, just the entire opportunity to show that girls’ basketball is competitive and athletic, because there are those stereotypes that it’s not as intense, but given the opportunity to show just how amazing it is, is so cool,” she said.
Reaume says she wants people to see their dedication, sportsmanship and above all, their heart because the girls on her team just really care about the game.
Coach Janet Cook says the addition of a second gym to the school now offers the space to allow the girls to have their own tournament and to be part of the LIT tradition. She’s also confident the girls on her team will prove their worth, noting that the team has had two very successful seasons.
“There was one game that was part of LIT last year, and I had so many people tell me it was the most exciting game of the tournament,” she said. “There’s a lot of energy and emotion and spirit that comes with girls basketball. Whatever girls do they seem to do it with passion and caring and that shows up on the court as well.”
Cook is just as excited as the girls to help them carry that energy from last year and share it with other teams. In a school steeped with tradition, she says this new twist is an exciting opportunity for the girls to feel like they are part of LIT on the athletic side, and not just the organizational side.