Taking the Final Shot
It’s never too late to do what you love at RHS, including joining the basketball team.
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As hockey player Wayne Gretsky, said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Senior Ananth Mepperla took advantage of his last shot to try out for the basketball team this year.
After being cut his sophomore year, he decided to give it another shot. After a lot of hard work and dedication, he achieved his goal of making the Rocklin High basketball team.
Ananth has been a huge basketball fan all his life. “It’s the one sport [that] I ever got hooked onto,” he explains.
Despite his love for the sport, he never played prior to trying out in high school. He had the opportunity to begin playing when he was in 5th grade,but he did not think that he would be good enough.
Looking back, Ananth wishes he had decided to play when he was younger. He knows that if he had played in a youth league he would be more experienced and would have tried out his freshman year.
After being cut from the team, Ananth decided to involve himself with the Rocklin High basketball team in a different way. During his junior year, he was the manager of the team.
As team manager, he ran the team’s Twitter and Instagram accounts. He attended all of the games and kept track of the team’s stats. Ananth would also take videos during the game to help out the coach.
Ananth enjoyed being team manager, although it did not take up a lot of his time. He considered being manager again, but senior year brought him new opportunities.
“At first I wanted to continue to be manager, but when Coach Taylor took over I decided I wanted to try for the team because it was my last chance to try again,” he says.
Over the summer and in the months leading up to basketball season, Ananth spent countless hours training in preparation for tryouts.
He first began training late junior year during open gym sessions before school. These practices were organized by Coach Taylor to get to know the athletes better. Since he had taken a break from coaching, he needed to familiarize himself with the players’ skill sets.
These sessions were several times a week before and after school. During the sessions, they would practice footwork, shooting drills and play against one another.
“It gave me the chance to play with and against my teammates,” Ananth adds.
Over summer, he practiced with varsity players Nick Oehler, Jake Mata and Bryson Zorich. They would go to the gym together and give Ananth pointers on what he could do to become stronger and more prepared for the season.
“He’s improved a lot and worked hard,” said Nick. “It felt good helping him out because I know making the team was a goal of his and it’s cool to see him get that opportunity as a senior.”
When this school year began, Ananth continued attending open gym practices several days a week. Also, he conditioned four days a week with the team where they would do sprints and other drills to improve overall fitness.
Conditioning helped Ananth to lose weight and to become faster and stronger.
“At first I hated conditioning, but it was a great feeling knowing that I was starting to get better,” he says.
After tryouts, Ananth was excited to find out that his hard work had paid off and he had made the team.
“For me, making the basketball team was a goal for my senior year,” he says.
Even after making the team, Ananth continues to strive to be a better player. His main goal for the season is to become a part of the rotation. Since he has not played for the past three years, he is not as experienced as some of the other players.
However, if he does not get a lot of play time, he won’t be upset.
“I will do whatever Coach wants me to do and I just want what’s best for the team,” he says.
Ananth will be at the boys basketball senior night on Wed. Feb. 15, and is looking forward to the rest of the season, and is happy to have finally achieved his high school goal after hard work and dedication to the sport he loves.