After their inaugural season last year, the players on the MOT Charter girls varsity basketball team started this season looking to improve in more ways than just wins.

A little past halfway through the schedule, the Lady Mustangs have taken steps forward as a group, earning more wins while also making an impact off the court as well.

The Mustangs won just five games in their first season, but led by Maya Rivera, Jacqueline Myers, Marissa Mosher and Sierra Adams, they’ve already equaled that total after a 54-23 win over First State Military Academy last week.

Now 5-7, the team is shooting for a winning record.

“I think people may forget that this is only our second year,” said MOTCharter head coach Roger Seedorf. “We have only one senior and two juniors as part of the varsity team. We’re a very young program and team.”

With only one senior on the team, MOT Charter has had to rely on underclassmen to adjust quickly, guided by the coaching staff and seven returnees from the inaugural year.

“Despite having six new freshman players, our team has progressed much quicker than last year,” Seedorf said. “They’re really committed to a culture of never giving up, improving every practice and game and are really enjoying playing together as a team. I believe this shows up on the court when we play as many parents and guardians and fans comment on the significant improvement they have seen as compared to last year.”

Growing together on and off the court

The building blocks of a successful team don’t begin and end on the hardwood. A winning program doesn’t happen overnight, and in the first years of a varsity team there are bound to be ups and downs.

A big key to getting through the tough days is forming a bond as teammates, something MOT Charter players have already shown.

Seedorf said everyone on the team is there to pick each other up, tutoring teammates through struggles in their classes, while volunteering together as a team to take on the consequences of a failed drill by one player on the court.

“These players really just enjoy playing together as a team and work constantly to help each other improve as a player, team and individual,” Seedorf said. “They all leave practice and games with a smile and a sense of optimism. Parents mention that their daughters come home happy and only with positive comments regardless of the game outcome.”

Pledging to make a difference

The MOT Charter girls basketball players decided they wanted to do more than just practice and play basketball. They also wanted to show their support to causes in the community.

At the beginning of this year, the players met to discuss their goals for the season and decided to support special causes at each game. So at each MOT Charter girls basketball contest this year, a rotating group of players have selected special causes to which they dedicate that home game. So far this season, MOT Charter has shown their support to helping Wounded Warriors and people with cerebral palsy, and fighting childhood poverty and childhood cancer.

“While we wanted to improve as a basketball program from last year to this year, we also decided that we wanted to excel and set an example for others beyond the wins and losses of the game,” Seedorf said. “So, our team decided on setting a very high standard for sportsmanship and playing in support of others that may not be as fortunate as us to play the game.”

The team’s efforts toward spreading awareness for these causes hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“Recently, the team received a personal handwritten letter and email from Ms. Christine Rapp, national program manager for Compass to Care Childhood Cancer prevention, who was just amazed at what our girls basketball players were doing for different special causes and thanked us on behalf of families of childhood cancer,” said Seedorf.

“Many veterans have expressed their appreciation to our teams for wearing red every Friday in honor of ‘Red Friday’ – wearing red until all active duty serving overseas and those missing in action from previous wars come home.”

Getting involved with multiple causes has had a great impact on theteam according to Seedorf who said it’s put things into perspective for the girls.

“I believe our team learned to appreciate more the opportunity to play the sport of basketball and any sport for that matter,” Seedorf said.

“When one thinks practice or a game is challenging, it is nothing as compared to those who are struggling with a challenging disease or disability. It has taught our players important life skills such as resilience, perseverance, service to others, and an excuseless outlook.”

Next games

After road games this Saturday, Feb. 2 at Brandywine and Tuesday, Feb. 5 at Archmere Academy, the Lady Mustangs will close out the regular season with four straight home games against St. Andrews Friday, Feb. 8 at 4:45 p.m., Freire Charter Monday, Feb. 11 at 4 p.m., Middletown Thursday, Feb. 14 at 4:45 p.m., and Early College High School Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 5:15 p.m.