From novice to captain: Unlocking her potential on the court through hard work, grit, leadershipFeb 09, 2024 01:01PM ● By Julie Slama
Hillcrest High guard Brooklyn Glover starts a play against Duchesne High in December. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
Four years ago, 5-foot-4-inch Brooklyn Glover stepped onto the hardwood having never played organized ball before. Now, she’s a captain of Hillcrest High girls basketball team nearing the end of her high-school career.
Glover and other seniors, including co-captain 5-foot-10-inch Aaisa Julia, whom she has played alongside all four years, will be honored at their last home game Feb. 8 versus Tooele High. Their last regular-season game is Feb. 13 at Murray High.
“I love my teammates and know at the end of the season, I’m going to be proud of us,” said Glover, who likely will hang up her competitive basketball career and, with her seal of biliteracy in ASL, will head to BYU–Idaho next year. “I remember I wasn’t even going to try out my freshman year; I saw the posters and fliers around, but it was one of my friends who said, ‘We should try out,’ so we did. It’s kind of funny because she didn’t come back after that year, but I stuck with it.”
Glover, who leads the team with 38% from the three-point line, said she had to work for that—as well as every skill, as she didn’t even play Jr. Jazz or recreationally beforehand.
“I played with my brother, who was on the boys team then, and with my dad in the driveway,” she said. “I would rarely make a lay-up. I had so much anxiety my freshman year that I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll get a year of high school in and then try out.’ I wanted to get involved in high school, and basketball seemed like a good shot. But I didn’t even think about it initially.”
At practices, her teammates would explain the drills she and other newcomers didn’t know.
“It was hard when we did drills with everyone because I got so scared that I’d mess up,” Glover said. “Some of the varsity girls who were good players and had played for years likely got annoyed because I was still figuring out the drills and didn’t have that confidence.”
Glover played some and sat on the bench some in those early freshman-sophomore team games.
“My first game I ever played, I made a two-pointer and I airballed a three,” she said. “I remember thinking, ‘Maybe the three isn’t my shot.’”
After team practices were over, Glover didn’t stop.
“I’d practice at my house,” she said. “My dad would push me. I remember I tried so hard, but I’d still get it wrong. Then at one point, I got it right. You just get better with practice. In [team] practice when we’d split up to do drills and I played with girls of my ability or just a little better, I began to feel more comfortable. That helped a lot. It was later in the season, I made a three from the corner, and realized I can shoot.”
Even so, Glover knew she had work ahead for herself. She set goals to handle the ball better, to practice her shots and to gain confidence—and she has continued to work on those every year. After team practice, she’s known to practice free throws on her own, which has helped her to lead the team at 80% from the charity stripe.
Her family still practices with her at home, and they are regulars on game days in the bleachers, cheering for her and the Huskies.
“My dad has never missed a game (except for during COVID when no fans were allowed); my mom is there almost every time,” she said. “I learned nothing is given to you; you still need to work hard. Some games I would play a lot, and there’d be some days where I would not play at all. I knew I needed to work harder if I wanted to play. I knew I needed to have the dedication and work hard, not just have the desire.”
The transition from freshman-sophomore team to JV and varsity was smoother for Glover since her freshman-sophomore coach Alyssa Nielsen had stepped into her first full year as head coach.
Throughout the past decade, Hillcrest High girls basketball has had several coaching staff changes. Nielsen now is in her fourth year coaching in the Husky program.
“Alyssa cares for me and tries to help me,” Glover said. “She makes sure she has connections with all the girls and not just her varsity team.”
With hard work and support, Glover’s confidence grew and when the Huskies needed a three, often they’d look to her.
“It wasn’t until my junior year that I began to truly feel more confident on the court,” she said.
It showed as Glover was a regular varsity player who would come off the bench her junior year.
“My brother stopped playing and started running track and cross country, but he still helps me, and I’ve learned from him,” she said. “Basketball is something he always has done, but he’s also an amazing runner.”
What has kept Glover going despite “our rough start” (0-10 this season) is her teammates.
“After my freshman year, I came back because I had fun and made a lot of friends, like Aasia,” Glover said. “We’ve been friends here since day one. So having those connections with other girls in school that I wouldn’t normally have is important and makes the difference.”
Remembering her anxiety freshman year, Glover added team inclusion to her goal checklist this year.
“This year is different as a senior and captain,” she said. “I think more about other teammates and making sure they feel involved. Before, I always thought about myself, wanting to feel included and wanting to have a good experience. Now I want other people to feel included and have good experiences, not just myself.”
She involves others by giving them the opportunity to lead warm-up stretches and encourages doing activities with each other.
“At practice, I may shoot with other people, not just my close friend group, but with some younger players,” Glover said, adding that she recently went rollerblading with a teammate. “We often make those connections as a team, but it’s also good to have those one-on-one interactions.”
Further helping to unify the team was playing three teams at a recent tournament in St. George. In January and February, the Huskies will be fully engaged in battling their new region—Class 4A’s Region 10.
“This year, we have a lot of new faces,” Glover said. “I think there’s only seven people from last year who tried out. It feels like a fresh start. Even though we haven’t won any games, we all get along well and have fun together.”
The tournament also helped Glover and Julia and the team’s third captain, junior center Asinate Mafuahingano, who leads the Huskies mid-season in points, rebounds and steals per game, come together to lead the team.
“I’m seeing improvement, and our team chemistry has gotten better,” Glover said. “Yesterday, we had some alumni come practice with us, and that helps us to compete. They’re not giving us anything; we have to work for it, and that’s helping us get ready to play against good players from other schools.”
Hillcrest High Athletic Director Scott Carrell said during the holiday break a couple Huskies were gone, leaving the team on a short roster, so he was looking to games in 2024 for the Huskies’ first win of the season.
“To be honest, if we could have made better passes against Stansbury, I think that could have been a closer game,” he said. “I think between Park City and Tooele, we got some good chances right there.”
Glover, too, is looking forward to the second half of the season.
“We have our heads up,” she said. “We’ve learned that nothing comes easy and that we need to work for everything. We all still want to win.” λ