Trio of senior captains ascend into leadership roles as the T-Wolves head to the Broken Arrow Tournament
Norman North middle Jacqueline Wright mimes the T-Wolves’ hierarchy of goals with her hands as she explains the mindset she and fellow senior captains Jordan Dooty and Jaden Chapel-Morgan are looking to instill in their teammates.
“It starts with, ‘Practice Hard. Win a game. Win a tournament. Win conference. Host regionals. Win state.’ We’ve got a big list and we know we have to complete the building blocks to get to the top,” Wright said.
Being goal-oriented is something this trio of captains for North volleyball embraces, because these are the standards the program has created after a string of six consecutive state tournament berths.
North head volleyball coach Stephanie Kane believes the T-Wolves have the perfect blend of personalities among the three to guide them.
Kane calls Wright “kind of our brains.”
“She’s very, very intelligent. She is very intellectual and she says very specific things that we need to do. That’s what her leadership is. She finds the little things that we need to work on and she’ll say those things,” Kane said.
Her coach stops short of referring to Chapel-Morgan as a cheerleader, but, if ever the T-Wolves are in need of an emotional spark, they know where to turn to.
“Jaden’s more of our positive energy, go-getter. She gets the bench riled up. When she’s on the floor, she brings all of the energy. She makes sure that we generate energy all the time. You never won’t hear her. She’s always loud on the floor all the time,” Kane said.
That aligns with who Dooty identifies as one of the team’s big personalities.
“Jaden’s definitely one of them,” she cracks.
Dooty, a defensive specialist, can speak with either her play or her mouth when necessary.
“Jordan just leads by example. She’s very good about it. Her energy and her play,” Kane said. “And then, she’ll bark at people and make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing on the floor. She has more of an intense side.”
It adds up to just the right mix.
“They all each bring something different to the table. We have a trifecta of awesome as far as captains go. They each bring something valuable to the group, which is good,” Kane said.
They learned from North’s leaders before them: Players like Karlee Alonzo, Maci Milligan and Katie Pace. Now, it’s their opportunity to do the teaching.
“Being older girls on the team, we have to show the younger ones how to have that competitive drive and also how to deal and stay calm under pressure,” Wright said. “We are held to those high standards. We know the people in the past have done this, so we need to do this, too. We need to hold up their legacy and their reputation. They set a reputation for Norman North and we need to hold that up.”
It was a team vote to select captains, too, which Wright said was an honor and perhaps a confidence boost.
“It was very exciting to find out that our teammates believe that we’re the ones that can lead them, encourage them and show them the way to lead on the court. It also built a lot of confidence in all of us because we were the juniors, we were the young players in the program and now we’re the seniors and they believe in us to lead them so it was very exciting,” Wright said.
Building the right chemistry between new and old faces is priority No. 1 right now for North as the T-Wolves have welcomed in five move-ins: One pair of sisters, senior Katie and sophomore Sarah Lindley, joined from home school; another pair of sisters, senior Emma and freshman Olivia Vance, arrived from Kansas; and junior Julia Donnan moved-in from Georgia.
“We need to build our chemistry. That’s what we’re all trying to focus on. This is a team sport, so everyone has to play together if you want to win. You can’t just be a single person. Everyone needs to have a competitive mindset for us to all win,” Dooty said.
Chapel-Morgan details what it will take to reach their ultimate goal of a state championship.
“Always focused energy. Coach knows what it’s like to win state, so she brings that to us and wants to show it to us so bad,” Chapel-Morgan said.
North is 8-1 on the season against a schedule that’s already included four matches against teams that were in the 6A state tournament last year: Deer Creek, Stillwater and Edmond Santa Fe twice. Their lone loss came to Victory Christian in the Union Tournament where they placed third.
The T-Wolves will see two more teams today that took part in last season’s 6A state tournament when they square off against Owasso and Jenks in the Broken Arrow Tournament’s pool play portion.
“I like to face the east-side schools that we don’t get to see very much. I feel like if we’re not playing anybody challenging, we’re not seeing what our full potential is. To me, wins and losses aren’t as important as how strong your schedule is,” Kane said. “I think it’s important to make sure that our schedule is tough. It also kind of gives me an idea of where we’re at in terms of getting into state. It’s good for them. They like facing the bigger teams and better teams. It all works together.”