Caryn Jarocki, varsity basketball coach for Highlands Ranch, signed all three seniors this offseason. Symone Starks, Blaire Braxton, and Bri Stiers all signed to play college basketball this year.
Jarocki is entering her 20th year at HR with seven state championships, two time coach of the year, and one of the best varsity girls basketball coaches in the state of Colorado. Bruce Wright, Athletic Director at HR said, “What she does with her girls is really instills a expectation of excellence. By doing that the girls rise to that level. She is a great coach.” Tommi Olson, sophomore at HR, had been playing with Jarocki for a long time says,” My favorite part of Coach J is that she is really competitive but also very caring and loving. My favorite memory of Coach J is whenever I’m struggling we can have talks in her office. She cares about everyone.” Entering her 34th year she says, “My favorite part [of coaching] is practice and seeing if my girls can do something new.”
Jarocki has led her team to seven state championships and many league championships but this year she said, “I want to create leaders that can provide for their teams in the future. I want Bri, Blaire, and Symone to lead the team.”
Symone Starks, senior, signed with the Eastern Washington Eagles this offseason. She averaged 11.8 points a game her junior year. She has played varsity since freshman year and is excited to go forward. “I am ready to play in college and blessed to EW for giving me a chance. I am truly blessed and very excited.” She is ready for another great year. She said, “I want this year to be the best. This is the best team I have played with and I know we can do great things.”
Jarocki said, “She is a rare player. She can pass, rebound, control the game, and be a game changer. You can put her anywhere and she will play great. She is one of the most athletic kids on the team. She is a quiet leader who leads by example. ” Jarocki is happy to have her and cannot wait to see what she does in the future.
As Wright said, “She owns the court and makes it her own. She is so flawless on the court. She is a great leader on and off the court. She is a role model for all.” Starks said, “I am blessed to play with the team I have and have the support system I have.”
Blaire Braxton, senior, signed with Seattle University this offseason. She averaged 9.7 points a game her junior year. As Jarocki said, “She’s pretty versatile around the basket, she can use her right or left hand to score. She is very kind, like a mom to the kids, and is fun to be around.” As Wright said, “She is a leader in the hallway. She went to a football game in Pueblo, because she supports everyone. She is kind off the court but on she is a tough player who does everything she can for her team.”
Braxton said, “This year my team and I have a lot more strength. We are ready to win the state championship. We are all excited. I am happy I have the teammates I do.” At Seattle University she will be playing a stretch 4, a forward who can shoot and post up. She is excited to go on to college to figure herself out and cannot wait for this opportunity but wants to finish her last year strong.
Bri Stiers, senior, signed with Missouri Kansas City this offseason after shooting 72% from the freethrow line and playing in 25 games last season. Jarocki said, “She is a versatile player who can play guard and post. She has played both for us. She can rebound, shoot, and play defense. I can’t wait to see what she can do.” During her signing Wright says, “She is a amazing young woman who had to fight for everything. UMKC will not only be getting a great ball player but also a strong young lady who will play hard.”
She came off the bench last year and played great. She is known as someone who can be put in any position and still be a presence. Stiers said, “I have wanted to play basketball since I was little. I love the game and I am happy UMKC gave me an offer so I can keep pursuing my dreams. The road does not stop here. I have a bright future and I am ready. I’m looking forward to show the freshman how to play HR basketball and see how far the team can go.” She will also be playing the stretch 4 saying “ I’m excited to the position, I play it right now and I think I’ll be really good at it.” She is the first person in her family to go to a university and she says, “ I am excited to pursue my dreams and get an amazing education”.
With three seniors on your team, especially three who are moving onto D1 basketball they teach the younger kids a lot. Olson says, “I’m excited to see them take that leadership role and carry us to the state championship because they really want it and so do we. They have mentored me and taught me how to be vocal in practice, how to act on trips, and that you have to take one game at a time.” These young ladies have worked hard from high ankle sprains, to making their own name, and fighting for everything they have earned.
Going into another year the Falcons girls basketball team is looking forward to a great basketball season with the help of their three seniors and their award winning coach.
Dominic Dakovich, Guest Reporter