The road is not always easy. Sometimes you have to figure things out on your own. Sometimes your ego and pride take a beating along the way. Sometimes things just don’t go the way you plan. Sometimes you feel cheated and not respected. When this happens is when a kid must step up. This is when a kid must show a willingness to go someplace they have never been before. I like to call it the struggle. It during these times you decide if your going to be a victim or a survivor. Ella Incio has been in the struggle all winter and she has found a way to survive.

After the first day of NBS, I walked pass Ella and said good job. In my heart I didn’t know if she would return or not. You see Ella was not playing on the main court and she was not dominating on the court she is was playing on. There are 43 D1 players in the current session of NBS. For a young player to make their way is not easy. I hoped Ella would return but one thing I was not about to do is beg her to return. That is a battle each kid must fight for themselves. This is a battle their friends, high school or even their parents cannot fight for them. Like I said it’s be a victim or survivor. That wass the choice that was in front of Ella Inacio.

After Ella’s 2nd week of NBS she was walking out the gym. I grabbed her and said to her “Ella don’t quit” she had this look of sadness in her eyes. I could see the anger and more importantly the disappointment. Then she said something to me, the words I love to hear when a kids back is against the wall. When they feel lonely and defensiveness… “I am not going to quit” I said good and I will see you next week. Ella has showed me something the past 6 weeks. I had formed an opinion about Ella, long ago. I thought she was kid who needed warm fuzzies and that she would not want to work. I also figured she would never get through NBS. I was sure she would drop from the program. A classic case of miss judging a book by its cover. You see Ella is quite and doesn’t say much. She doesn’t wear her emotions on her sleeve. Believe it or not basketball in a lot of ways is new to her, she was an elite soccer player. So she didn’t train in basketball environments like other kids did growing up. She just happens to stacked with talent from top of her head to the bottom of her toes… we have not even begin to see a faction of what Ella will be one day.. which is one of the best players in the Shore Conference.

Ella spent a number of weeks off the main court. She wanted to be on the main court in the worse way… I could tell by he puppy dog eyes and body language. I caught her sneaking on the main court a few times(I love that) and told her to switch courts. No question her ego was bruised and she had to question why she wasn’t been giving just a chance to prove she could roll with the big dogs. Her Peers and other kids were on the main court. She had to think what about me? I finally told her one day. “Your never getting on this court until you play hard and dominate on that court”. She must have gotten the answer. Because all of a sudden I notice Ella stepping up her game week after week. I noticed she started taking in real pride in her game regardless of who it was against.

Finally I moved Ella over to the court she really wanted to play on. She wanted to prove she could play with anyone. Then she didn’t dive on a loose ball, I jumped all over her. I asked her if she knew how to dive on the floor “I was being a wise ass. But amazingly he said “yes” and that’s exactly what she started doing. There are days Ella is over head and she takes a beating from older, strong players…D1 players. In in these moment I know she has to search her soul. When she really get worked over, I walk over to her and say. Keep working and don’t stop playing hard. I want her to learn effort is what will make her great one day. Not her athletic body or natural ability. She is a mega talented player. Coaches will be drooling over her one day. And if she stays the course and is will to be a survivor vs a victim; the sky’s the limit. It’s why everyday she leaves the gym I try to say these words to her….’DON’T QUIT” and guess what when she says “I won’t” … I believe her these days.

What Ella doesn’t know she was she gained my respect. I knew she was a good player. I know she is one of the best freshman in the Shore. I know Ella is talented I know she has skills and I also know she wants to be great…NOT GOOD. That’s why I love when she does anything good on the floor. She will be attending Ranney this year. She is going to light it up at Ranney. I think Ella’s best days are ahead of her. She is growing week by week these days. She had a setback with an injury. But that’s ok because Ella is going figure things out. Just like she has at NBS… she also is going to make a run at FIRST TEAM ALL FRESHMAN… BECAUSE ELLA INACIO IS A SURVIVOR.





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