Ashley Guy and Melissa White have a lot of shoes to fill: 16, to be exact.
The Rock Bridge girls’ basketball team had eight seniors last year, and four were starters. Guy is the only returning starter, and White is the only other senior.
With a younger team, Rock Bridge (0-4) is trying to adjust to new roles for every player.
As the returning starter, Guy has two new roles: as a leader and as a player the other teams try to stop.
Guy, an All-Conference honorable mention last season, will face the new challenge of getting double-teamed and having top defenders guard her. She has handled the task well, averaging eight points.
In the early part of the season, Guy’s major focus will be learning how to be a leader.
“I would say that I’ve definitely had a role change,” Guy said. “This year just as a senior, I’m trying to just lead the team and lead some of the younger girls with what our program wants to do in the future.”
Although Guy has to learn the leadership role, White has some experience as a leader. White played on the junior varsity last year at coach Bob Plourde’s request.
“I asked her to be JV and to really try to focus on leadership with the young girls,” Plourde said. “Now she’s up here, and she’s doing a great job.”
The seniors aren’t the only players learning new roles. Junior Rachel Jones is also adjusting to becoming another scoring option after Guy.
Jones has had early success, averaging 9.8 points and 4.1 assists.
Jones said she feels scoring is not her only role on the team.
“I think more of an encourager,” Jones said. “Just to kind of get some of the young girls going.”
That will be important. With a young team, Rock Bridge needs players to step into their roles as quickly as possible, and encouragement seems to be the first step.
"The ones that have been here a while, I think it’s our job as a team just to get us going and to encourage us in drills,” Jones said. “It’s changed quite a bit, just from the learner to the teacher.”
The Bruins also are learning how to handle the demands of a varsity game.
“I think one of the biggest problems is when you’re starting, you get all that adrenaline going and you get out there and you may shoot your entire energy in the first 30 seconds, and then you’re dead tired,” Plourde said. “You’ve really got to learn to pace yourself. You’ve got to get into the flow of the game.”
Plourde said he has confidence that things will settle as the season progresses and White and Guy learn to lead. For now, Plourde said he is seeing good signs with the team.
“They’ve always been used to … when the going got tough, there was a senior there to pick ‘em up,” Plourde said. “Now that torch is passed to them, and they have to do that job. What I’m seeing is underclassmen starting to follow them, and that’s a good sign.
“Some of the underclassmen are starting to show some leadership as well because those two girls can’t do it by themselves.”