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Saturday, April 9, 2011

"My Motivation" Shanell Lightfoot (Jackson)

When Shanell Lightfoot (Jackson) came to GHS, she was a great athlete and an average shooter at best. When Shanell was a senior, she was a great athlete and a great shooter. Her senior year she was 42 for 97 for 43% from threes, and 56 for 70 from the line for 80%. Shanell was a great, great shooter.

As I look at our teams that have made a run in the state series, there always seems to be one or maybe two players who take their game to another level. In 2001 that was the case with Shanell. I am not sure what her shooting percentage from threes was during the tourney but she could not miss. We lost to Sterling early in the year and then played them for the Sectional title. The Sectional game was not a contest- and one of the main reasons was that Shanell hit three point shot after three point shot. Her team went on to take 4th in State.
Sometimes players "talk" about what they are going to do. Sometimes players "say" they want to become good. Sometimes players "plan" to work on their game. I honestly don't remember Shanell ever talking about what she was going to do. In fact, I was not even aware how much she was working. All of sudden one spring I would run into people who would say,"I was working out at the Y, and every time I go there Shanell Jackson is there shooting when I get there and she is still shooting when I leave." I heard this over and over. And I heard it in the spring, the summer, the fall, and even in the winter. Shanell did not talk about it-- she just did it.

Shanell at Redbird Arena

Her senior year, one of the media people said,"Shanell is just a natural shooter." No, she was not a natural shooter, she made herself into a good shooter. 

I asked Shanell some questions about her approach. I sure hope some young players read this-- it is very good. Thanks Shanell!!

You had always been a good player coming up in junior high and frosh-soph level but I don't think I would have described you as great. But by the time you were a senior, you had become one of the best shooters we have ever had. How did you become such a great shooter?

I dedicated the majority of my free time to working on shooting. With the level of players I was "competing" against (Michelle Flaar, Rachel Bicego, Megan Pacheco, etc.) for playing time, I knew that I would have to work on my shot, specifically, getting it off faster off of screens, off the dribble, and as a spot shooter. 

2001 State Tourney Program

I remember Dave Klockenga who did our radio stopped me once and said that you were at the Y every time he went there. Could describe how often you went to the Y? How long did you shoot? Was it more shooting or playing pick up games?

I'd say living across the street from the YMCA was a blessing in disguise. When I had nothing else to do, I would go practice. I didn't really like to play pick up games because it would be with a bunch of guys who would just let me shoot uncontested shots because I was a girl. I found it more beneficial to work on my own. I never really counted the number of shots I took. I just shot until the gym closed or when I was beat tired....and I always had to finish with a make- it made me more confident.

I created my workouts based on the plays we had.For example, if I knew I was coming off of a screen in a certain play, I would go full speed and toss the ball to myself as if it were being passed to me as I curled off of a screen-- repetition was the key. I would also work on ball handling because with my speed, I knew that I could create some additional shots for myself or for my teammates. I also did suicides on my own whenever I messed up-- I was that player that never wanted to come out of the game and I didn't come out much because I was in good overall shape.   

2001 State Tourney Program

A lot of times, players talk about how things just "clicked" all of sudden, something happens and their motivation and goals change. Was there something that sparked your increased motivation?

I really felt like I would be sitting on the bench going into my junior season. I felt underestimated and I had to show everyone and myself that I could be more than a quick defender. My motivation was not wanting to sit on the bench. As I said, there were some great players I was competing against and I knew that's what I had to do. I didnt even play volleyball my junior year so that I could go to open gyms for basketball. I had never sat the bunch and I wasn't about to start as a varsity player. I made a committment to myself to work my behind off so that it would become second nature to me when it came to playing in game.

Could you describe your work out plan or program that you used?

Described above. I feel like everyone should tailor their own workouts for what's best for them. 

What advice would you give to a player for the off-season?
1, Don't ever think that you are guaranteed a spot.
     2. Remain humble about the work your doing on your own because your improvements will be noticed by others.
     3. Know that the off-season is the time to get better and that you may not be comfortable shooting 3s or pulling up for a jump shot at the beginning of the spring/summer, but if you work hard on a few things consistently, they will become habit and your hardwork will pay off.
    4. If it were easy, everyone would do it. So on those days when you're not really in the mood to go workout on your own, remember how it felt to lose in that last game of the season. Trust me, it will pay off.

 I hope this helps someone and I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed that Supersectional game. I think I lost my voice :)


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