The Bears were decimated by injuries last year and won only four games, but the team receives an early boost with health on its side in the early going this campaign. A variety of ailments and small numbers to begin with left Norwalk with only a dozen players in the program partway through last season, resulting in the junior varsity program being cut.
As this year's preseason unfolded in early December, coach Ricky Fuller was pleased to have 23 players and the JV squad back in place.
Key returnees are seniors Shantel Butler and Tiasia Brown. Butler is coming off a pair of ACL surgeries, and Brown is back after a concussion sidelined her for most of last year. Sophomore Mariah Ventrella, the Bears' second-leading scorer in her first high school campaign, is also back.
Fuller expects freshmen Shania Osborne, Amanda Beckwith, Jackie Harris and Asiah Knight to factor into the team's success early on in their careers.
"They're going to compete for significant varsity minutes this year," Fuller said. "The future is definitely looking good."
Norwalk's coach doesn't set win-loss goals, but wants to see his team improve every day.
"They have to work on developing their skills on a daily basis," he said.
The Senators won three games but were a young team last year, so hopes are high that experience would pay off this campaign, but a pair of transfers and injuries to two more team members -- all juniors -- leave coach Mark McElveen in rebuilding status yet again.
"It's really like starting all over again," McElveen said.
Junior Kyle Courtney is the only player of that group of players who started as freshmen who is back and healthy to begin this campaign, and McElveen is hoping for her to step up as one of the team's leaders. Junior twins Kim and Taylor Duhart are among those whom the coach hopes will make contributions. Read Full Article
Seniors Jazmine Taylor, a four-year player, Sabrina Rodriguez and Vicky Agular return. Taylor is battling back from injuries and McElveen hopes she can become a leader for this team. Agular is a threat from behind the 3-point arc, and the coach would like to see her develop other aspects of her game.
A bulk of the roster is untested. "They're experienced but they've all been role players. I need to find out who's going to step up and be leaders," said McElveen, adding that the players will need to get tougher and play hard consistently to be competitive in the always-challenging FCIAC. The conference, led by the likes of Danbury, Fairfield Warde and Wilton, is challenging pretty much top to bottom.