Leader of the pack

The word “leader” is often tossed around carelessly and used to describe those who do not embody its meaning or spirit. Make no mistake; Heidi Stuart is all that a team leader should be, period.

During practices, she is routinely the first one down and back during running drills, smiling and encouraging her teammates. The smile rarely leaves during games, when she becomes the extension of the coaching staff, bringing calm and composure.

Of course there are her physical gifts, which have made Stuart a three-year varsity player and this year’s team captain. She has the ability to do almost anything on the court, save perhaps dunking. One of the team’s best shooters and a crafty passer, Stuart is also a fine post player for her size, thanks to her athleticism.

Defensively, she is often asked to guard larger players and she does so effectively. She has won over her new coach, who said, “I couldn’t ask for a better senior leader.”

Though quick to deflect the compliment in respect of her teammates, the truth is hard to escape. “She has every single person’s respect on this team,” Coach Elliot said.

Battling back from her ACL injury, Stuart is now healthy and has used that respect to be the emotional leader in the locker room and the composed veteran star on the court.

The task is daunting but Stuart is more than prepared. “We’re just excited to play together,” she said. There’s a reason for that, Heidi.