For Orange Lutheran junior Sheridan Kennedy, playing basketball is all about the team. Having played hoops since she was nine years old, the camaraderie she shares with her teammates on and off the court is the root of her love for the game.
“I like the chemistry from the team environment,” says Kennedy. “Everybody is very encouraging.”
Last season, Sheridan played a key role in helping OLu secure the program’s sixth CIF championship with a thrilling victory over Sage Hill to claim the CIF-SS Division 2AA title. Her dominate play in the postseason tournament earned the Lancer forward CIF-SS Division 2AA Player of the Year.
Moving up to Division 1 this year, Kennedy is poised to have another strong season. She and her teammates have the same goal in mind – take home the CIF crown. The Lancers currently sit at 18-5 with Trinity League wins over JSerra and Santa Margarita.
“For our team, we want to just go out and compete,” says Kennedy. “We want to win CIF again, because we know everybody is on our back now. We need to stay focused and do everything we did in practice…do little things right.”
Kennedy often encourages the younger players on the team, and having played club basketball for a number of years, the three-year varsity player takes a lot of pride in representing her high school as a student athlete.
“Sheridan is a rock for our team,” says OLu girls basketball head coach Lindsay Charity. “Her teammates depend on her to be strong for us in the paint, and she is often tasked with guarding the opponents’ biggest and strongest player. In addition to what she brings on the court, her personality and humor are what we love about her off the court. She's one of the funniest people I know, and it's hard not to be smiling when around her.”
Dwelling too long on mistakes can be a challenge playing this game, but Kennedy has learned that progress is made when you keep moving forward.
“Don’t give up, because if you give up, then you can't chase what you want,” says Kennedy. “[Basketball] shows you that if you really want it, you can go and get it. Always be there for other people, because you never know when you’ll need it.”
Kennedy also sees her faith reflected in her sport, as her favorite Bible verse is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
“I just thank God for everything I do,” says Kennedy. “He's the one who wakes you up and helps you. We always pray before games, and we thank him for everything.”
The 16-year old is looking ahead at possible paths after high school, including finding a college that will allow her to both play basketball and pursue a degree in nursing. A strong support system of role models including her mother, coaches, family and friends are there to cheer her on wherever her next steps may take her.
“She does everything, sacrifices everything, her time for me, to just make me happy or just be here,” says Kennedy of her mom. “My coaches push me to be the best I can, even when I don't think I can. And my family and friends are always there for me.”