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Athletes of the Issue: Abby Mills: Star Shooter

Anu Vashist ’21 Assistant Sports Editor
Girls Varsity Basketball Captain Abby Mills ’19 has managed to single-handedly lead her team this season, as her coach, Casey Blake, explained: “Abby plays an important role on this team- as a captain and as a player.”
Mills has been on the team since her freshman year; however, her love for the game began much earlier. She explained, “I first got into playing basketball when I was really young, like around five years old formally, but we had a mini basketball hoop in our backyard when I was a toddler. I played for my town travel and school teams before Hopkins.”

Mills’ diverse basketball experiences have taught her to balance being a compassionate teammate with being a competitive player. According to teammate Charlotte Yin ’20, “She’s the nicest person off the court but a beast on the court.” Casey Dies ’20 expanded: “The balance between her humor and seriousness is what distinguishes her from everyone else. She knows when it’s game time, but she always has fun and finds a way to make sure everyone else is having fun too.”

Mills, the team’s only captain, admitted to some of her initial concerns: “The experience is really different from previous years. I didn’t really know what to expect. I’ve learned the most important thing for me to do is keep the team’s energy level up during practices and games. I prefer to lead by example instead of just talking a lot, so that can be difficult sometimes. Being captain is fun but it’s also a lot of work.”

Blake suggested that Mills’ overall willingness to improve makes her an ideal captain: “She is never satisfied with her play and is always working to improve. She provides a solid model for the team in terms of what a good teammate looks like and work rate.” 

Dies recognized Mills’ transition after becoming captain: “She’s always been a leader on the team but has really stepped up this year as captain. People are always confused when we say that our team has one captain, but she’s all we need. She’s an extremely important part of our team.” Ella Zuse ’21 agreed: “Abby leads the team through both her hard work in every game and her helpful pointers at practice.”

Mills recognized some of the skills she’s gained throughout her time on the team: “The most valuable things Hopkins Basketball has taught me is mental toughness– how to get out of my own head and do what needs to be done to win, how to stay focused at all times, whether that’s at the start of practice or 30 minutes into a big game. I’ve learned discipline from our conditioning practices over break (and from fouling out a few times over my career). I’ve also learned to laugh at myself.”

She noted that while basketball at the Varsity level is rigorous, the team has provided her with many enjoyable experiences: “It’s also been really cool to see kids in the grades below me grow. I have a lot of other memories that happened off the court at team dinners or at the tournaments. I wouldn’t want to play this sport with any other group of girls.”

She shared some advice for younger players aspiring to play basketball: “There have been so many games where made or missed foul shots wind up being the reason we won or lost. For J-Schoolers thinking about playing in high school, they should be aware that it’s a big commitment and we are expected to give 110% everyday, and no one should take that lightly.”

Mills, who is hopeful for the upcoming season, shared some of her goals for the team: “As a team, we have several goals this season–we’d really like to beat teams we’ve been competitive with the past few years.” Mills hopes to stay with basketball: “I want to play club basketball at whatever college I attend next year.”
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