By Lauren Boisvert, Community Communications Director

Webster Elementary School’s 4th and 5th grade girls’ basketball team just wrapped up their undefeated season, led by Coach Katie LaBranche. Katie LaBranche is a Title I Reading Supervisor at Webster Elementary and a mother to one of the girls on the team. She also chairs Manchester Proud’s Council.  This year’s championship is particularly notable, since only four of the team’s players returned from last year.

Asking the girls about their favorite part of being on the team, they all echoed the same feelings of enjoying being together. 5th grader, Liah says, “spending time with my friends and learning new skills”. 5th grader, Quinn added, “We have built a family around the team”. Not only were the girls like family, but they truly felt encouraged and uplifted by their coach. About Coach Katie, 4th grader, Isla says, “She is practically my idol”. 5th grader, Gloria adds, “She’s the best coach I’ve ever had”.

Eight girls on the team had never been on a team before. About this, 5th grader, Else says, “There are so many rules in basketball and they’re always changing”. To overcome this, the girls practiced three times a week and they calculated that they practiced for over 50 hours throughout the season. Coach Katie highlighted their dedication by noting that the students spent recess time creating new plays for the team. She says, “They worked hard this season”. 

About winning the championship, 4th grader, Aniya says, “It was like getting a new cat or dog and having a birthday party at the same time”. Webster Elementary School completed their undefeated season in a Championship game against McDonough Elementary School.About this 4th grader, Isla says, “McDonough is a great team so we weren’t sure that we would be able to win”. 4th grader, Anola added to this saying, “We didn’t even make the playoffs last year”! 

Coach Katie explained, “It’s like a little community” with all the alumni, students, and families coming together to encourage and celebrate the team. She told a story of Leah who arrived here from the Dominican Republic when she was in 1st grade; her father had played basketball during his time in the Dominican Republic and he came to give the girls pointers and stretches to utilize. Webster PTO also helped raise funds to purchase hoodies for the entire team, that they all wore during our interview. 

This group of students is highly involved. When asked who participates in another club or team at school, every single student raised their hand. Some examples of this are: French club, chess club, strings, 21st Century, YMCA, band, Girls Scout, BringIt!, and Boys and Girls Club. In addition to these extracurriculars, they also participate in various sports, moving into new seasons in baseball, lacrosse, girls on the run, and archery.

When saying goodbye, the girls were excited to show their team cheer. They stood together in a circle with their hands stacked together in the center and yelled, “I, 2, 3, Webster”. Congratulations to the Webster Elementary School’s 4th and 5th grade basketball team on your championship and undefeated season!