Freshmen ballers take on varsity challenges

December 10, 2009 — by David Eng and Jenny Zhang

It’s not every year that a freshman gets to play on a varsity squad. This year there are two freshmen on the boys’ basketball team: forwards Stevie Berman and Kyle Dozier. Neither expected to play at the top level, but both ended up donning varsity jerseys.

“I got moved up in the summer [league], but I didn’t think I would make it,” said the 6’1″ Berman, who has been playing basketball since third grade.

Coach Trevor Naas decided to include the boys on varsity after seeing them play over the summer and during tryouts.

“They play hard, they’re coachable and they’re both physically ready to play at the varsity level,” said Naas.

A strong player in the post, Berman uses his body well and is a great rebounder, said Naas. And with great basketball instincts, Dozier moves well without the ball and is a good passer and shooter, he said.

Now that they have survived cuts, Berman and Dozier are still finding ways to become adjusted to playing with older players.

“It’s kind of intimidating playing with upperclassmen, but it’s still fun and I enjoy it,” said Berman.

Naas understands the difficulty in playing varsity so young.

“Playing varsity basketball as a freshmen is a tough thing to do, but they’re here for a reason. I expect them both to be big contributors on our team this year,” said Naas.

Such an age difference in any sport would be difficult to get adjusted to, but as Dozier said upperclassmen have been helpful.

“[Senior] Andy Johnson gives me words of encouragement and tells me if what I’m doing is right or wrong,” Dozier said.

Berman said the adjustment to playing on varsity was made slightly easier because he already knew several seniors through his older brother, Andy, who attended Saratoga High.

Johnson said he’s enjoyed playing with the freshmen.

“I’ve known both of them for a long time, so it’s fun teaching them how to play. I don’t think anyone thinks of them as a bad thing,” said Johnson.

As the freshman duo becomes acclimated to their new junior and senior teammates, they also must prepare for the competition they will face.

“It’s a lot faster. Everybody’s a lot bigger and it’s not as easy,” said Dozier, comparing varsity to eighth grade basketball.

Berman added, “It’s hard playing against bigger, faster and more athletic people than me.”

Making varsity, however, does not come without hard work. After all, it is usually hard to make the varsity basketball team as an upperclassman, let alone as a freshman. While Berman trains outside of school with his Asian League team, the Ninjas, Dozier practices basketball twice per week on his own.

Dozier also emphasized his motivation on and off the basketball court.

“I try to be the best that I can be so that I don’t hurt the team or myself,” he said.

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