When the Rock Bridge girls basketball team takes the court tonight at 7:30, Bruin senior Ashley Dressler will be focused.
As a member of the varsity for four years, she knows what she has to do to help her team.
“I have to be strong inside, not miss my shots, make my free throws and play hard defense,” Dressler said.
After beginning the season with two straight home losses, Dressler learned the importance of a strong work ethic, a lesson that she says helped change the attitude of the team.
“We don’t like losses, so we get in the gym and run for things we do wrong,” Dressler said. “The losses really made us push ourselves.”
The Bruins bounced back, going on a 21-game winning streak. However, it was not just the team attitude that changed. Rock Bridge coach Jill Nagel says Dressler has also transformed as a player this season, adding a new dimension to her already solid defensive play.
“She can guard almost anyone on the court,” Nagel said.
Not only does Dressler contribute to the team with her play, but according to Nagel, Dressler also contributes with her voice.
“She knows the game and talks the kids through it,” Nagel said. “She’s good at talking and communicating.”
For Dressler, being a vocal leader on the team has not come easy, but she has learned from her past mistakes.
“Last year, I did it in a pretty harsh way and me and coach talked about it, because no one was listening,” Dressler said. “I figured it was probably a lot easier when you do it in a nice way.”
Now Dressler takes a more positive approach to helping her fellow teammates.
“I don’t yell at them,” she said. “But I do hint at what they should do or say (like) ‘that looks a little off, why don’t you try this.’”
Dressler says the positive attitudes of the team have translated into bonds between players.
“Everybody is friends on this team.” Dressler said. “I don’t think there are any feuds.”
Though the Bruins have maintained their focus on hard work, Dressler admits they still have their jokes.
“We’re a silly team,” Dressler said. “Sometimes we get unfocused because we’re so silly.”
The Bruins’ game tonight will be against district tournament host Jefferson City. It will be a rematch of the last two district title games, where Jefferson City came out victorious in both. However, to Dressler, this year is different.
“Last year we probably could have won districts, but we just didn’t have the heart,” Dressler said. “Now, we don’t give up, even if we we’re down 15 points.”