HARTINGTON — While the start of school marks a beginning for most students, for some it signals an end. With the end of summer comes the end of summer activities, and for James Kaiser and Alli Walter, it means the finish of their participation on travelling basketball teams.
Kaiser and Walter will both be going into their sophomore year of high school at Cedar Catholic.
Kaiser, an All-State Tournament team selection for Class C-2 as a freshman during the 2011-2012 basketball season, played on the Nebraska Select summer travelling team.
Besides having fun, James said he made the choice to play summer basketball in order to get better for next season.
“When you play a bunch of people that are better than you, the tough competition makes you better.”
Kaiser recognizes the commitment it took to travel to the far-away tournament locations that included venues in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Missouri, but also says that is a small part of the sacrifice he has put forth in order to be a good basketball player.
“I shoot around every day, just working on getting better.”
Spending time as a member of a travelling team helped James learn lessons that weren’t always strictly basketball related.
Unfamiliar gyms and different teammates pushed him to make new friends and meet new people.
“I learned how to work together as a team against different kinds of competition, and met new people that became friends,” he said.
Alli Walter, or ‘Baller’ as her friends refer to her because of her success in the sport, spent the summer on a travelling team called Northeast Nebraska Hoops.
Her first decision about the team, regarding whether or not she would participate, was an easy one.
“I decided to play travelling basketball because I love basketball and it’s another way for me to become a better player,” Walter said.
Improving her game didn’t come without hard work and commitment, however. Twice a week starting in May, Alli devoted a few hours of her time to practice with her team in Pierce. Throughout June and July, she sacrificed several weekends to attend tournaments in a variety of locations. Tournament schedules could be grueling, packing six to seven games into a weekend.
To Alli, the sacrifices made were worth it in the several different ways she succeeded. “I learned so much from the other players and my coach, and it all made me an all-around better player. The group of girls I played with made it such a fun summer and I would definitely do it again.”