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Point guard grasps her role as leader

01/17/2013, 11:08pm PST
By Kevin J. Farmer

Briah Haskin has grown into her role as leader of the girls basketball team at Olympian High.

Briah Haskin, a junior, leads the Olympian girls basketball team in scoring, three-point shooting, steals and assists. As a team captain, she said she knows other players look to her to set an example. She played her freshman year in Pensacola, Fla. Earni

“Team” and “leadership” are two principles coaches preach but are often hard concepts for young players to grasp.

These buzzwords regularly flow from the mouth of Olympian High School girls basketball star Kalybriah “Briah” Haskin.

“I’m one of our captains, I feel I have show I’m a leader,” said the 5-foot-7 inch junior, who leads the Eagles in scoring, three-point shooting, steals and assists. “They depend on me to show the right way.”

It’s easy to see why Briah understands the importance of these words.

Her stepfather, Michael Ridgeway, is a proven leader, serving as a chief petty officer aboard the amphibious assault ship Peleliu. His transfer from Pensacola, Fla., to the San Diego-based ship brought Briah to Olympian the summer before her sophomore year.

“It was really hard to leave my friends and family, but once I met this team I knew I had a new family,” she said.

Briah started playing at 6 with her mother, Ieasha, right by her side.

“Almost everything Kalybriah has done, I’ve coached,” said Ieasha, who played at Florida A&M in Tallahassee.

“My mom is my main supporter,” Briah said. “Without her I probably would not even play.”

Briah started on the varsity at point guard for her mother at Pensacola’s West Florida High School as a freshman. She wasn’t a captain, but had a key leadership role guiding the offense.

“She had to learn to exert herself and put people where she wanted,” Ieasha said.

Then came the transfer and the entire family, including little sister Amari Franklin, 8, and cousin Tayasiah Walker, 10, had to leave all that behind.

Olympian benefitted — inheriting Ieasha as the junior varsity coach.

“It was a tough because I had been head coach at the school for three years,” admitted Ieasha. “I do the JV here and help out where I can. I’m just grateful coach (Carlos) Vasquez was able to find a place for me.”

Vasquez also got a player who knows the meaning of team, both on and off the court.

“I like to hang out with my teammates,” Briah said. “If you can’t hang out with your team there’s something wrong. Blending together really matters.”

Off the field that blending consists of everything from shooting baskets at the local park to hanging out and talking about boys.

“It was real hard at first, but I think they trust me now,” said Briah, the team’s rookie of the year as a sophomore.

During Olympian’s recent 53-35 win over Brawley, Briah was part of a moment when playing as a team works to perfection.

“We came up the floor and made one quick pass after another, ended up with an easy layup,” said Briah, who posted a season-high 22 points in the game. “It showed what we are capable of doing.”

Briah, named player of the game in seven of the team’s first 18 contests, has found benefits for herself in being a leader.

“My attitude can really have an effect on the team,” she confessed. “I have to stay positive for the team. Sometimes when a call that doesn’t go my way I get an attitude; it makes me have to fix my attitude.”

This past summer she returned home to the Southeast, playing for the Bama Storm. The South Alabama-based travel team played in tournaments Tennessee, New Orleans and Atlanta.

“It was tough finding my groove playing with all strangers,” she said. “But I liked it. I got to see all the college coaches and what kind of competition I’m up against.”

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