Jefferson Has Unfinished Business, Playing with Heart in 2020 [VIDEO]
“We tell our players to play every single game like it’s their last game,” says Jefferson head coach Brittani Lawrence. “Especially for the seniors. Our motto is to play with heart, we have embraced that in every single thing we do. Without heart, we aren’t going to get anywhere.”
She’s right. The Lady Dragons, currently ranked #3 in Class 4A, and all other teams in the country in every sport, have no choice but to play like it’s the final game. You never know what will get cancelled next.
That said, the girls are off to a quick 2-0 start to the season after taking down Gainesville and Cherokee Bluff in close matches on Tuesday evening. The Lady Dragons already looked just as good as last season’s 35-win team that made it to the Sweet 16.
“This team is relentless,” says Lawrence. “That’s something we’ve been trying to embrace through every point that we play. To hold each other accountable is another aspect that we have been embracing. A lot of these girls are returning varsity players, and they know what it takes to be a part of the big dogs, and they’re doing just that.”
While most programs would be satisfied with an area championship and Sweet 16 run, Lawrence knows last year the team could have done better.
“It left a scar on our heart. We were not happy at all with how it ended up [last year],” says Lawrence. “We were thrilled by being area champs…but we were hoping to go further in the state playoffs last year. When that didn’t happen, it kind of lit a fire in our souls to realize we have to be better. We have been trying to be better than what we were yesterday. We have to hold each other to high expectations. We have to take what we’ve learned…and put it together and play as one.”
The program has had monster success going back to 2010, winning over 300 games in that span, five area titles, making state every season, advancing to a Final 4, two Elite 8s, and three Sweet 16s. This team, which returns players such as Jojo Smith, Maddie Grace Smith, Annabelle Cox, and Abbey Howard, could be the best yet.
“If I had to pick one of my all-time favorite group, this would be it,” exclaims Lawrence. “The fact that they play for each other and not necessarily for themselves speaks fairly highly of their character. They have fun while they’re playing – something that coaches including me sometimes that lose sight of that. The percentage of all-in is tremendous.”
Asked what it would take for Jefferson to win a state title, Lawrence gives a simple recipe.
“Play with heart.”
Jefferson returns to action on Thursday against Lanier Christian Academy.
Digital Copy of Interview – Brittani Lawrence
Digital Copy of Interview - Brittani Lawrence