02 Feb FE: One more rep

We’ll follow up on our Wishwall feature with an update on mentorship through Mamba Academy:
By this point in her freshman season at Newport Beach Sage Hill, defenders have started pressing so close in Ms. Holguin’s airspace, they could guess the flavor. It’s usually mint. Sometimes orange. Holguin started with gum in the sixth grade; didn’t like mouthpieces but had to be chewing something. So she pops in a new piece before every quarter. “Keeps it fresh,” Holguin said, grinning.
In a mid-January game against Orange County power Santa Ana Mater Dei, Holguin is hounded every time she touches the ball, picked up full-court, face-guarded. She goes coast to coast for a layup, hits a deep three.
All the while, she chomps her gum.
Sage Hill coach Kerwin Walters doesn’t want robots, he says. He wants “swagger.” And Holguin has it, flinging one-handed, cross-court passes, cashing threes with a slingshot form reminiscent of Chino Hills-era Lonzo Ball. She creates highlights. She makes mistakes. But her confidence is extraordinary, never a hint of frustration passing over the 14-year-old’s face.
“By the end of her time in high school,” Walters said earlier in the season, “she’ll be one of the best guards that’s ever stepped on the court.”
You can’t teach confidence. But you can mold it. And more than four years after she walked into her first Mamba Academy practice, Holguin’s mentor still motivates every day. In every drill. One more rep for him.
Kobe Bryant’s lessons still echo in her head.
“Even though you’re young, I’m going to put you in there. You’ve got to push it. Even if you’re missing, keep shooting, it’ll fall.
There are 11 girls in the world who have been coached by Kobe Bryant. Ms. Holguin is the last of them to reach high school. And she came to Sage Hill, in part, because she was the last piece of an old puzzle scattered by tragedy: Bryant’s plan for an elite group of girls to play together through high school. The last piece of a legacy…
Thank you for reading! We welcome your comments.
Akasha Lin
Akasha Garnier for #TheWishwall
Author, Brand Expert, Filmmaker
Image and article inspo: LA Times
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