As the girls' basketball team at Albemarle prepared for Tuesday's season opener against Colonial Forge, the Patriots admitted they already had something the team was missing last year -- optimism.
"Last year, honestly, we expected to lose every game. Because we just weren't good," sophomore Keturah Barbour said at practice on Monday. "We were the underdogs, and we expected to lose. This year, we're hyped to play, and I feel like we're going to have a great season."
"I think everyone's excited, because it's new, and I feel like we've been doing things that we've never done before," agreed senior guard Dionna Corbin. "So hopefully we get results like we've never gotten."
The Patriots' excitement stems from the arrival of new head coach Rachel Proudfoot. The Arizona native took over the program in July, after winning 78 games over four years as head coach at Delta Vista High School in Phoenix, including a state quarterfinal run last season.
Proudfoot says she's been "incredibly encouraged" by what she has seen from her team since her arrival.
"There's been so much growth so far," Proudfoot said Monday. "So if this is where we're building, from here, we have a lot to build on."
"She's been really positive," said Corbin. "She tells us that we can do things, that we can do it. She's really positive with us. She likes to lift us up. I definitely see a difference in us, in the scrimmages and everything. We just look like a totally different team."
Proudfoot discovered the open coaching job at Albemarle after moving from Arizona for family reasons. She's taking over a team that went just 5-20 a year ago.
And Proudfoot said Monday that she's most excited for Tuesday's opener because of how much her new players were looking forward to it.
"They're so hungry," Proudfoot said. "They're ready to play against somebody else besides themselves. They saw a lot of positive things in the scrimmages with our defense, so they're ready to put it in play."