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Athletes of the Month

By Colin Anderson

Photos by Jason Duchow

Jacob Eldridge, Junior

One could say that Sandpoint high school junior Jacob Eldridge loves playing sports. “I have played almost every sport from hockey to even entering into a marble competition,” he laughed. Jacob is relatively new to the area, having moved here just a couple years ago in the middle of his freshman year. His love of sports carried with him, and although he arrived halfway through the basketball season, Coach Engelson allowed him to join up with the freshman team. “I started playing better than I ever had before. I moved up to the JV level and started to perform on that team as well,” said Jacob. By season’s end, Jacob was practicing with the varsity team and traveled with them for the final game of the season. When sophomore year came, he started out playing on varsity and gradually found his place on the team.

Now, just two seasons later, Jacob is a team captain on varsity and excited to see what his team can do this year. He’s hopeful to hear the roar of the crowd whether the Bulldogs are ahead or behind. “The part I enjoy most about basketball is when we are down in a game with a few minutes left and something switches, and we go on a scoring streak while the crowd is yelling and cheering, and at the last second we pull it off and win the game,” he said.

A boost from the crowd is great for an athlete’s confidence. Jacob admits that it is sometimes a struggle for him to be confident in his abilities, but he is continuing to develop those skills as well. “I have trouble seeing myself as better than the opposing players but, over the years of playing, I have learned to become more confident in my abilities. It has also been helpful to have coaches that support and believe in me the past few years,” he said.

While Jacob enjoys many sports and activities, he is hopeful that he will be able to take his love of basketball to the collegiate level. He also envisions himself owning his own business someday so that he might have the freedom to pursue his many other interests.

Bella Phillips, Senior

Athletes work hard year-round in order to put forth their best effort. The last thing any of them want is to have a referee or official make a silly call to ruin a moment or great run. It will likely happen to everyone at some point, and dealing with it can be difficult. This is something senior Bella Phillips has dealt with on the basketball court alongside many of her teammates. While frustrated, she is also able to acknowledge how it can happen after she decided to step into their shoes and see the game from a different angle. “It wasn’t until I started to referee boys and girls youth basketball as a freshman that I understood how stressful being a referee is, and how hard it is to call every little thing,” she said.

Bella is able to shrug off questionable calls and other tough times because of the support she gets from teammates and also wanting to set a good example to others. “Being a part of this team has taught me how to be confident and do what I can do to help those around me.” Her teammates come from different social circles around campus, but their love of basketball and support for each other continues to bring them closer together. “Being with these girls as much as we are, with all the ups and downs, they become like another family,” said Bella.

Basketball as well as other sports and physical activities have been a major part of Bella’s life since she can remember. She recalls being most excited entering high school and finally having the chance to play at that level. She started on the junior varsity squad as a freshman and was brought up for several varsity games as a sophomore. She continues to play varsity ball this winter and says the experience has taught her skills in juggling both her academic and athletic commitments.

Bella is still deciding on a college to attend in the fall and believes it’s possible that she might be able to continue her basketball career as well. “I think it would be an amazing experience; however, I would like to focus on my career goals too.”

Those goals include wrapping up a four-year college degree in psychology and eventually becoming a psychologist. “I’ve always enjoyed being there for others and helping them through tough times. Psychology is a subject that I am looking forward to gaining knowledge of,” said Bella.

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