Vina senior looks forward to final basketball season
As the only senior of the Vina Lady Red Devils girls basketball team, Mary Morgan Clingan is facing the excitement and challenges that senior year always supplies.
“What you choose now determines your future later. It’s very nerve-wracking,” Clingan said. With goals that range from being a role model to making grades worthy of her dentistry dreams – dentistry cemented itself as a career goal after her job shadowing experience with Junior Leadership – Clingan is nevertheless determined to excel on the court this year, with big ambitions for her final season of basketball.
She’s played the sport since Little League.
“I’m competitive, and I don’t like to do things by myself. As a team it’s a lot easier,” Clingan said. “I love being competitive. I love to win.”
Although she’s going to miss the game, Clingan said she decided not to pursue playing in college, opting instead to focus on her academic career – either at Northwest-Shoals Community College, or possibly at Itawamba Community College if she decides to try out for cheer, and ultimately at UAB. But there’s still a season of games remaining with her Lady Red Devils, and Clingan has some specific parameters for putting a successful season in the books: she wants to win at least 15 games and come out on top in the Franklin County Tournament.
“We almost won ten games last year, and I feel like we have improved tremendously,” Clingan said.
Drills will begin officially following high school football season, but Clingan said the dedicated Lady Red Devils will often meet up on their own initiative to shoot and practice. When Clingan talks about Vina’s strengths as a team, she uplifts her teammates first: Abby Hester, Kaitlyn King and Emma Humphres’ shooting – “I didn’t know they could improve as much as they have. They can shoot a lot better now” – and Gracie Raper’s determination to excel – “She shoots so many shots a day. She is really working hard … She sends me videos of trick shots … She amazes me how good she is going to be.” She also gives credit to Coach Richie Hester, who, Clingan said, has changed the whole atmosphere of the team, inspiring in the Lady Red Devils greater drive and ambition.
For her own part, Clingan recognizes her strength on defense, stopping the ball on the court. Goals for this year include a continued focus on her dribbling and shooting.
Hester said Clingan is “always doing her part, if it is setting a trap on the press or setting a pick and roll on defense.”
“Mary is one of our top rebounders and shot blockers,” Hester said. “But most of all what Mary gives to the team is a great attitude and her leadership ability. We have a young team, and being able to pick one another up is very important. Mary’s leadership will carry her far in life.”
In her senior year, Clingan wants to see improved school spirit and support of Red Devil athletes from the student cheering section. “Everybody’s like, ‘We’re never going to win anything,’ but I feel like we could this year. If the cheerleaders get together, and we get together and bring the spirit, it could be a really good year.”
Clingan has been at Vina since kindergarten, and her favorite thing about the school is its teachers – like Jessica Hamilton.
“I cannot explain has much she has helped me with my college classes. She has worked her tail off. She is a blessing,” Clingan said.
Although being the only senior on the girls basketball team is sometimes lonely – “I’m the oldest one. Nobody leaves class with me to go change for games” – Clingan said she’s become incredibly close with her teammates.
“Even though they are younger, they don’t act younger,” Clingan said. “I can’t express how much like sisters we are. I don’t think any other team is as close as we are.”