Hard work pays off for McInnis
by Matthew Ondesko: Managing Editor
Tireless emails, waiting for coaches to answer back. Welcome to recruiting in the new world. There used to be a time when coaches sought out the players. While most still do, it’s been left up to the players to do all the research on the schools, and coaches, to get a feel if that’s where they truly want to go.
It can get tiring at times. Sending out numerous emails around to coaches. Making sure you ask all the questions you need to ask. Selling yourself to a program that you believe would be a right fit for you.
“The recruiting process can get stressful at times. Sending emails and waiting for the responses and making sure you got to every coach was definitely the hard part,” stated Wilson basketball player Peyton McInnis. “Sending those first emails was difficult. If I had the choice to go through it again I would definitely do it in order to be able to play a sport I love. The plus to this whole process is realizing you are playing a sport you love at the next level. There’s only that small percentage that get this opportunity and I am very grateful to be a part of this process. There was definitely a sign of relief once it was over.”
McInnis had opportunities when it came to college. Her game translates to the next level. When it came down to it, it was Alfred that won out. It had everything McInnis was looking for in a school.
She was going to get a great education, and be able to play the sport that she loves at the highest level. It was a win, win, for both Alfred and McInnis.
“My decision to go to Alfred was pursuing my dream to play college basketball but more importantly going somewhere where my education is valued,” stated McInnis. “When I first went on a tour on that campus I got a feeling that it’s where my future would lie. The support they provide for your education was like no other school I visited. Basketball was just another plus for me. Coach Moskowitz couldn’t have been any more supportive during my recruiting process. He is a coach that is obviously worried about basketball but more importantly your future and where the college experience will guide you.”
McInnis has been part of something special since she stepped foot on the basketball court at Wilson High School. The basketball team isn’t used to losing, especially in conference play.
Wilson has won 70-plus league games, and counting, in the Niagara Orleans League. The streak isn’t lost on the players that have come before, and after, the streak has started.
McInnis, and the rest of the team, don’t feel any pressure to keep the streak going.
They just go out there and play their game each and every night.
“We have worked very hard to keep this streak going. We don’t know any other team that has accomplished this. It is an honor to be a part of such a successful program,” stated McInnis. “We want to keep it going for not only the teams in future years but most importantly Coach Baker. The time and dedication he puts into this program is unmatched.”
The time, and dedication, that McInnis puts into Wilson High School is unmatched. McInnis just isn’t a basketball player. She is a three-sport athlete that plays soccer and softball, as well. McInnis is thankful to be able to play as many sports at Wilson as possible.
Besides the competition, it’s the friendships she makes. Most of the girls play the same sports, so everyone is familiar with each other.
“I am thankful to be able to play three sports at Wilson because a lot of kids at the larger schools don’t get that opportunity,” stat ed McInnis. “You do have a mix of kids on each team but most of the teams are mostly the same kids.That’s the special part is the bond you create with these teammates."
The girls also do a great job focusing on the sports that are at hand. In the summer, McInnis will train with the soccer team, while still getting some basketball camps in there. During basketball season, the girls will have open gym for softball, so they can get the rust off.
Whatever the sport is for that season, McInnis is completely locked in.
“During the summer we will work with each sports team. Once August comes around, it will be all about soccer until the end of October. I would get some basketball training in here and there. Once the beginning of November rolls around and soccer’s over we have a couple basketball open gyms and basketball season starts about a week after soccer is over,” stated McInnis. “During that season we will have a softball open gym about once a week just so we’re not too rusty going into the season. Basketball is a very long season for any athlete, but we know once it’s over in March we may get a one week break or no break at all and move right to softball. We then are focused on softball until the end of May. Then during the summer every sport starts the extra work all over again.”
Going from one sport to another is never easy. The rest between sports could be about week, maybe two. Going from soccer to basketball can be stressful at times, knowing the expectations for the basketball team every year.
The soccer team this season had extremely high expectations as well, so the girls knew what to expect.
“Jumping right into basketball from soccer can be a little tough. Knowing the expectations we have for basketball makes it tough on us but we have the athletes capable of handling it,” stated McInnis .”Even for soccer there were very high expectations for our teams but we knew we worked for it and could reach them. It is mostly the same kids so we're all going through that transition. Those expectations for basketball allow us to get into things quickly because we know we have to start working towards them right away.”
McInnis is always working on her game. She knows she will get each teams best night in and night out. There will be games where the opposing team will try and take her away. That’s fine, she will make the adjustments as the game goes on.
When the ball comes down in the post, McInnis knows what to do with it. She has a high basketball IQ, where she can make a move and go up strong - or distribute the rock to one of her teammates as soon as the double slides down.
“In the post, I may not be the tallest you’ll see but I have been able to improve on my craft footwork and post positioning over the years,” stated McInnis. “I know I will need a two hand demand down there and know what to do when I get the ball. I’ve also worked on knowing when I may need to just distribute or kick and when I should make a move to score the ball.”
Anytime she wants to work on her game, McInnis knows she can count on her coach to be there. He has been there every step of the way for this program. The dedication he puts in during the season, and off season, are second to none.
If McInnis wants to get a few shots in before, or after, school, she's knew that coach Baker will be there.
“Coach Baker is a person I know I can always talk to. He started working with me in seventh grade whether I wanted to come in the gym before or after school. He is always willing to work on my game with me whether it’s in the gym or watching film,” stated McInnis. “He can be very tough on me at times but I know it’s because he cares and wants to see me grow. He has helped me build my confidence in this game. Off the court I always know I can go to his classroom and have a conversation with him no matter what it is. He will give you advice and listen to you. He will be there for you in any situation. There are not enough words to describe how Coach Baker has had an impact on my life and I know many others.”