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Withdrawing a varsity team from competition is nothing new to the Brooklyn Center girls' basketball team. The school last dropped to a junior varsity schedule for the 2008-09 season. The team returned to varsity for the next three seasons but has returned to junior varsity in 2012-13.
The Centaurs struggled last year at the varsity level to a 6-20 record. This year against junior varsity teams, they started strong at 7-1, but since have struggled to an overall record of 9-10 as of Feb. 2.
Junior shooting guard Dominique Hines has played with the team since seventh grade, when she played on both the junior varsity and varsity teams. Hines, who leads her team at more than 22 points per game, said the Centaurs are doing everything possible to move back to the varsity level for her senior season.
Were the players involved in the decision to only play JV? To be honest, I didn't even know. Because like, when I first got the news that we were not going to have a varsity -- and that was a surprise and I didn't believe it, and we came to practice and he told us we were only doing JV.
How do you feel about playing at the JV level? I really didn't like it, because I like a challenge. And I like to letter in sports and since we're JV, we don't letter. I lettered since I was on varsity last year.
What was the attitude like on the team at the beginning of this season? The first week of practice, we were kind of down that we were playing JV. But once the games start coming, we didn't even notice.
How do you think the team did last year at the varsity level? Our season wasn't too good. I think we won like, we won at least three or four games. And the challenging teams were, like, DeLaSalle or Minnehaha (Academy).
And this year at the JV level? Our first few games, we won seven in a row, so that was pretty good. And then we started losing a little bit. But DeLaSalle still was a problem. We lost to them and Minnehaha, so they're still the two schools that challenge.
Your coach, Mike Contreras, has set up some games with varsity teams. Does that help the team stay challenged? We have tournaments playing varsity teams. We've been close to beating one varsity team, actually. Yes, I like it. Makes me feel like I'm back on varsity.
Is it hard to stay motivated in a JV schedule? We just go out there and play hard and try to get the W.
Are you helping to build this team into a successful program? I want to stay here and help, you know ... We actually want to go far this year. So yeah, I'm trying to fix the team up.
What would it mean to be back on varsity for your senior season? I would love, it because my team's goal is to beat DeLaSalle my senior year. We wanted to beat them this year. And since we didn't beat them, we want to do it next year, too.
Has your team made it a goal to make it back to varsity competition? We talked to our coach about it. Even though we're going to have a young team next year, we still want to do varsity.
Megan Ryan is a University of Minnesota journalism student on assignment with the Star Tribune.