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The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

“This is my home”

Jesica Annissipour steps on the Terraceum court once again; this time as a coach, not a player

You can almost hear her hard work ethic and determination in her voice when the team huddles around her. It is the definition of how she has been able to galvanize and give a resurgence to the women’s basketball program at MTHS.

Both MTHS and the sport of basketball have always been “big passions” for Jesica Annissipour, and she is trying her best to get the program back on track after last year’s rocky season.

Although Anissipour is new to the world of coaching, basketball has always been an integral part of her life. She’s played basketball from kindergarten all the way to college, including a stint at MTHS.

During Annissipour’s time at Terrace, she was a key cog in the women’s basketball team from 2005-2007, helping the program compile an overall record of 43-26. Since then, the women’s basketball program has found itself stuck in rough waters with a total record of 50-127.

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After Annissipour graduated as part of the class of 2007, she went on to Shoreline Community College and played a couple of seasons there.

Now instead of lacing up sneakers for the hardwood, she will be donning a clipboard and watching from the sidelines. This has been her first year as the head coach of varsity women’s basketball. Anissipour describes this job as her perfect match.

“I played basketball here at MTHS. This school has always been a huge passion of mine. I did student leadership and I did multiple [extracurricular] activities, so this place is my home,” Annissipour said. “When I got done with college, I thought, ‘that’s the best way to further my career with basketball since I can’t play anymore… Coaching because I love spreading the gift of basketball to kids who want to learn.’ Between my leadership skills and my basketball career, it was the perfect thing to do.”

This season has not been picture perfect, however. It’s still been a rocky road.

The team currently stands with a record of 2-14. Although some could be looking at that through the lens of pessimism and point out that the Hawks are at the bottom of the Wesco 3A South Conference and are 0-9 in conference games, Annissipour isn’t focused on any of that.

She credits their record to age as this year’s roster is made up of almost entirely freshmen and sophomores. The youth on this team, as Annissipour said, means a lack of experience, which leads to a lot of growing pains and spurts.

The decision to be the head coach didn’t come out of nowhere. Her inspiration to coach comes from her father, who once upon a time was her basketball coach.

“He taught me pretty much everything I know. He was a great coach, a great mentor, and a great community guy. He tried to get troubled youths off the streets and onto the basketball courts. Seeing the changes he made, it became something that I wanted to do,” Annissipour said.

When Annissipour came in, it wasn’t a match right from the start but it didn’t take long for bonds to form.

“To be honest, we didn’t really like each other at first. What I did know was that she was going to push us. Now I’m really appreciative of her because we have someone who cares for us as individuals as well as for the program itself,” junior Jorie Lambert said.

In Annissipour’s first year with the Hawks, she has focused on emphasizing one common theme: the concept of team and family being the same.

With daily practices Monday through Saturday, Annissipour has pounded that mindset into the Hawks. She said that the team spends more time together during the basketball season than some kids do with their own families, which strengthens their individual connections with one another and causes the team to have a bond like no other.

“We all love each other. We fight with each other. We joke with one another. We all have the same goal in mind. The drive is there and we all want to [win] together,” Annissipour said. This ideal that is shared has become transparent among the players as well.

“We’re definitely like a family,” Lambert said. “We haven’t had any drama. She’s made it actually happen and she’s built that chemistry. I care about each and every one of the girls on and off the court, and I know that they all feel the same way.” It’s not all about basketball for Annissipour. She also believes that a big part of her job is to mentor and prepare her team for a life beyond basketball.

“[My biggest role as a coach is] sending the girls off into the world. It’s not always about basketball when you coach,” Annissipour said. “Coaches for me were my biggest influences so being a positive role model and teaching them the game of basketball but also life skills, that’s what I want to do.”

Annissipour’s goal heading into her first year of coaching was simply to bring back the foundation. She wanted to get the players and fans at MTHS excited once again for women’s basketball. She wanted the players to enjoy coming onto the court and getting up shots for practice. With those goals in mind, improvement is coming.

Annissipour has been able to reach out and bring younger kids to the gym. When you look at the roster, you see few juniors and seniors, but you do see a bright future as the team is filled with freshmen and sophomores. Annissipour sees that light at the end of the tunnel and believes that the time for Terrace women’s basketball to reach the top will come. “As time goes on, they will start learning together and working together,” Annissipour said. “We will be the next team to watch out for. Lynnwood is the state champions, but they were like us, the bottom of the league, not so long ago. Our rotation and time will come.”

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