By MARY OVES
Anyone who attends high school sports contests has seen that player. She’s easy to spot. She is the one hustling. She is the one focused and driven, who gives 100 percent every time she steps onto the court. She works hard, and is willing to stand behind the “stars” when she is young, knowing that one day, if she’s patient, it will be her turn in the spotlight. She waits. She rides the bench as an underclassman, game after game, watching other disgruntled players quit over lack of play time. But her character is bigger than that. She doesn’t let it get her down. Because she knows that eventually her time will come. She waits, and works, and hustles, waiting for that time to arrive.
And that time has come for Ocean City Red Raiders senior guard Kilie Wyers.
Wyers is one of just a few seniors on this year’s Ocean City girls basketball team, and her three years of hard work are now paying off, just like she knew they would, just like her coach, Paul Baruffi, said they would. This year, Wyers is a key player and starter in the Red Raiders lineup, and is not taking her spot for granted.
Baruffi has nothing but praise for Wyers.
“She waited for her turn to play, was a reserve last year, and was willing to wait behind older players. As long as I have coached her, she has been determined to play and contribute any way she could, and she continued to work hard to get out to play this season.”
Wyers echoes her coach’s sentiments, and has always understood his reasoning.
“Coach told me my time would come, that for seniors it’s their time, and that I should be patient because it would one day be my turn, and that he would do the same for me. And he did,” said Wyers, this edition’s Old Cape Recycling Scholar Athlete.
Wyers began her basketball career as an Upper Township recreation league player at age 7. Her father was her coach, and she spent her time in rec basketball learning the game from him. She played soccer and field hockey, but when she was about 12, she decided to focus on basketball.
“I don’t know why I loved it more than any other sport. It just became my thing. I loved the sport, being on the court. I remember thinking, ‘Hey, I’m good at this,’ and I took it from there.”
Her mentality about the game was apparent when discussing the loss to rival Mainland on Jan. 24. When asked how she and her teammates were dealing with losing such a close game (42-37) that went into overtime against such a big rival, she was frank and clear-headed.
“We played hard. We’re happy with the way we played. It’s over, we just move forward from here,” she said.
As a senior captain, relaying the message of hard work and determination is an important one. Wyers is a leader to her teammates, especially to the younger players. Baruffi said that as a senior captain of a young team, Wyers needs to leads by example, and does.
“She leads by working hard in drills and inspiring her teammates to work hard to improve. We graduated four senior starters (from last year), so this is not an easy task. I think she has done her best to help the younger girls improve.”
Wyers is a well-rounded scholar athlete who works hard off the court as well. When she’s not playing basketball, her favorite thing to do is to relax with friends and family, watch movies and enjoy the down time that she so rarely has as a result of playing a sport as demanding and physically taxing as basketball.
As an honors student with a 3.7 GPA, she also makes plenty of time for her academics, showing her positive work ethic in the classroom as well as on the court. And it looks like her work has paid off, because Wyers said she plans to attend Marywood University in Pennsylvania. Located on a 115-acre campus in Scranton, Wyers said she knew immediately after visiting it that this liberal arts university of 3,500 students would be her college home.
“I just fell in love with it,” she said. “I liked the coaches and the team, and I just felt really comfortable there. The area it’s located in reminded me of Ocean City, with the little stores and the rows of houses. I just felt like it was home.”
As she enjoys her last high school basketball season, Wyers also looks forward to her college experience. When asked about her goals as a Marywood Pacer, she says it is to be a contributing factor in their success.
“My goal for Marywood basketball is definitely to bring a spark to their team and contribute any way that I can to their program, whether that be offensively or defensively.”
Wyers has enjoyed her four years as a Red Raider, she said, and reminisces about the years of practices, the team dinners, and most of all the trips she and her teammates took to Disney in her freshman and junior years.
“It was definitely my favorite part of my basketball career — visiting Disney, going undefeated in the tournament— just having fun with my teammates, that’s what I will always remember.”