FORT WAYNE – Juanita Goodwell and Ariana Simmons might be getting more out of being part of the Indiana All-Stars than they are putting into it. The coach and player led South Side to a Class 4A state championship runner-up finish in March but will use the experiences this week to bolster their basketball careers.
Goodwell is an assistant coach for the All-Stars, while Simmons is one of 14 players who will play the Kentucky All-Stars this weekend.
This is an honor itself being here knowing that I am doing something that a lot of coaches have not had the opportunity to do, Goodwell said. I am humbled, privileged and blessed to be here for that experience.
Goodwell said the Indiana girls and boys coaching staffs met before and after practices and games against the Junior All-Stars this week, sharing stories and advice on coaching .
Coaching is coaching, so getting to hear their struggles and battles and successes and having that camaraderie and building my knowledge of the game is what I am getting out of this, Goodwell said. It is something I will grow from as a coach and hopefully bring that back to my program in what I continue to do as a coach.
Simmons will play at IPFW after the all-star experience is finished.
Players from different area codes and seeing how they play are great experiences to bond and get to know these talented athletes, Simmons said. It’s fast-paced and moving without the ball and playing defense, and we have two-a-day practices, so it is getting us ready for college life. It gets us used to two-a-day practices, exactly like college.
Simmons said the team has been able to come together as a close unit quickly.
We have pretty much known each other for a while and played AAU, so the chemistry is there, she said. We try to play as a team and not individually here.
During the week it has been all business in getting ready for Kentucky today and Saturday.
The girls are very much aware of what they are expected to do, Goodwell said. We have been able to put in quite a bit and retain it.
What we really focus on is getting the best out of them. We have talked about what Kentucky is like and what their tendencies are. We are focused on these girls playing well with each other.
It’s a matchup Simmons said will provide a good game for basketball fans to watch.
They are fast and quick, but we are also fast and quick., Simmons said.
And then coach and player will go their separate ways.
I am going to miss her, but it is great, Simmons said of having Goodwell on the All-Star coaching staff. I am glad she is here, and she keeps me pushing it.
It is great to have her along.