By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Kelsie Mann loves basketball. A consummate team player, Mann is enjoying her senior year, her final year of playing competitive basketball.
Last week in a loss against Bluefield and a win over Independence, Mann scored 14 points in each game and against Bluefield the 6’1 post player grabbed 17 rebounds earning her Pocahontas Coal Association/Bluefield Daily Telegraph Player of the Week honors.
“This year has really been great so far,” Mann said. “I’ve learned a lot, made a lot of friends and have really enjoyed playing four years for the James Monroe Mavericks.”
For Mann and the Mavericks it’s all about team. Also a member of the JMHS volleyball team that made the state tournament this past season, Lady Mavs hoops coach Malory McPherson talked about Mann’s abilities.
“She had 14 (points) in both of those games (last week) and her jersey number is 14,” McPherson said. “I told her we were going to switch her number to 20. Kelsie can score 20 a game, but this is a team-oriented group of girls. She averages around 11 points and 13 rebounds per game. Her rebounding efforts are tremendous offensively and defensively and are crucial for the team.”
Considered a team leader by her coach and teammates, Mann does her best to prepare herself and her teammates to perform at their highest level.
“I’ve tried to encourage everyone to push harder. That’s what basketball is all about, running and hoping to get where you’re going and I think that has really helped us,” Mann said. “We are a fast team, that’s one of our main strengths. That’s what people come to see us for.”
McPherson spoke of Mann’s determination and work ethic.
“She gives a hard effort, a good effort every game, every practice, always gives 100 percent,” McPherson said. “We started off with tough losses to Nicholas County and Summers County and Kelsie was dealing with a pulled quad in both of those games. She needed physical therapy, but once she was healthy we went on a seven-game winning streak and at the Narrows Christmas Tournament she was named MVP.”
A decade ago the Lady Mavericks won the first of back-to-back state championships and Mann said the legacy of that team lives on at the Lindside school. However, this team will write its own chapter in the school’s history books.
“I think we do it (play hard) for our community, but we also do it for ourselves. We do it for each other. It’s not an individual game,” Mann said. “We don’t care how much we score individually, we’ve always been like that. It’s not a ‘me’ thing. We do what we can do to help everybody else out to win and play as a team. Since I was a freshman it has never been about individuals achieving goals, we all work together to achieve one big goal.”
The James Monroe boys basketball team has a player with the same last name, Mann, Garrett Mann. Kelsie and Garrett are not related, but they are very good friends.
“Garrett is a very good basketball player and I’ve always looked up to him. He has always been there for me to give me advice,” Kelsie said. “I talk to him every day. He has always encouraged me to go on to college and do what I want for basketball. We talk to each other about anything and everything. After every game we’ll Facebook each other and tell how each of us did.”
Mann’s basketball career will come to a close with the Lady Mavericks’ season, which she hopes will be in the state championship game with her teammates.
“I am not continuing my career in basketball into college because I am going to focus more on my education,” Mann said. “I really thought about it. I have played basketball every summer since I was growing up. My family pushed me because I wanted it. They pushed me to get better. I’ve pushed myself to play every summer because I love the game and I wanted to get better to help my team. I would rather focus on my education than anything else (in college). That’s more important to me than anything.”
Mann plans to major in nursing at Bluefield State next fall, but for the next six weeks she will continue to work hard and help the Lady Mavericks win on the basketball court.
— Contact Bob Redd at firstname.lastname@example.org