JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Ribault Lady Trojans traveled to New York City and returned home the No. 1 girls basketball team in the nation.
But that journey began with a vision.
Nola Carter, one of the team's captains, shared her vision with her teammates for success no only on the court but off.
“I was raised in the church, and the Bible says you have to speak things into existence,” Carter said. “And I take ownership to that. I speak everything into existence.”
Carter said her vision for the school's first national championship came true Saturday night at New York City’s Madison Square Garden when Ribault High School took the Dick's Sporting Goods high school basketball championship 75-49 over Riverdale (Maryland) Baptist.
“I knew we were going to Dicks. I knew we were going to win it all,” Carter said.
But Carter doesn’t limit winning it all to the court. She is one of four Lady Trojan Scholars to be in line to complete an associate’s degree from Florida State College at Jacksonville at the same time she graduates high school. Something the players don’t take for granted.
“I’m the only one that’s going to college in my family,” Idamar Mojica said.
But it’s adversity that makes them stronger and encourages them to work harder academically, especially the team captain, who sets the example.
“I have the highest GPA on the team,” Carter said. “My unweighted is a 3.7 and my weighted is a 4.4.”
If anyone needs help with school work, they come to her. If she can’t help, she tells them who can.
Mojica and teammate Rennia Davis said they wake up before the sun every morning to catch the bus to school.
Those early mornings turn into long days that often end with the help of a tutor, which the girls say is worth it because it's preparing them for the future.
“Basically, with basketball and school, it keeps me disciplined. It keeps me focused,” said Kayla Rogers, another Lady Trojan Scholar. “With that being said, it helps me stay focused on what I want to do later in life.”
“Nola has taught me to be more outgoing, rather than so quiet all the time. She just brought the shyness out of me,” Mojica said. “And Rennia, she taught me to just keep on working.”
And the teammates plan to keep working.
“We’re going to open up a training facility with a gym and a pool on the first level,” Carter said. “The second level is going to be the rehab facility and the third level is going to be our offices.”
There’s a pep rally planned to celebrate the team's national title later this week.