Barbara Nelson is taking a methodical approach to her first season at Myers Park High.
Nelson, who returned to the high school ranks after five years at Division II Wingate, believes the Mustangs can equal – or surpass – last season’s team, which went 31-1 and advanced to the N.C. 4A Western Regional final.
“I think what’s important for us is to keep our eyes on what’s important, and that is to get better every day,” said Nelson, who won 437 games, nine Charlotte Independent Schools conference titles and seven N.C. independent school championships over 21 years at Providence Day. “The kids will tell you I haven’t talked about the state championship because we’re not there. We’re 30 games away and we haven’t played our first game. We have to figure out what our best is and every day strive to be that.”
With four starters returning, Myers Park has the personnel to compete, but the Mustangs will have to adjust to a new system. Nelson says the early results have been good.
“I really like my team a lot,” she said. “They are not only talented, they are really hard-working. We have 15 players and they come to work every day, they play hard and treat each other right. It’s a really great place to be.”
Nelson’s championship resume brings instant credibility, said senior forward India Timpton, who has committed to UNC Greensboro. Aside from Nelson’s success at Providence Day, she’s won at Wingate (101-51 with three NCAA tournament berths) and internationally (two USA Basketball junior team gold medals).
“I think coach Nelson has just as much weight on her shoulders as we do, but because we’re all spreading the weight out it’s easier for us to handle and move forward as a team,” Timpton said.
Nelson downplays state title talk. Myers Park returns most of last season’s starting lineup, but she’s keen to develop depth that will allow her to build a consistent rotation beyond Sona Kumar, India and Saadia Timpton, Aliyah Mazyck, Tamia Sistrunk, Rydeiah Rogers and Latravia Roseman.
“It feels like a lot of experience, but really only six of these people were on the team that went 31-1, so it’s not a depth of experience,” Nelson said. “We really are learning and growing together and figuring how to play together. There are some missing pieces that we’re having to work really hard to fill in.”
The Mustangs are motivated by last season’s shortcomings, but Timpton appreciates Nelson’s emphasis on seizing the moment, beginning with the Nov. 26 season opener at Garinger.
“We use it as drive to get to where we want to be, but we have to make sure we take every game seriously, every practice seriously and every class seriously,” Timpton said. “We have a lot of different things (we) all (have to) put together to hopefully get that ring one day, but we have a while before we get there.”