Grooming & growing future Yellow Jacket champions


It’s no secret that Lady Jacket Basketball is on the map, thanks to back-to-back winning seasons in District play and beyond. According to Head Coach Rod Been, the hugely successful Pre-Athletic program that starts at B. McDaniel Intermediate School has played a big part in developing today’s incredible talent pool -- but he also sees additional talent potential at even younger grade levels.

“Last year we began to recognize each Denison elementary campus at our Lady Jacket home games,” said Been. “Our goal was to get the kids to the games and stoke their interest and excitement…and to get them thinking about how great it will be to someday be Yellow Jackets, playing on this court. Basically, we introduced and recognized the teachers, principals and students at each school’s designated game last year, hoping that they would remain in the stands to watch the game, join in the excitement…and learn a little about the game of basketball. It was a great start, but we knew we wanted to take it to the next level.”

Fast forward one year, and in typical Been fashion the program has quickly reached that next level. “This year, the elementary school kids from each of the campuses put on a halftime show exhibiting their basketball skills. They dribbled and passed and showed off some amazing ball-handling skills, and our fans just really enjoyed it, as did our coaches, basketball girls and families. It’s been a great thing to witness how the kids have grown so rapidly in their abilities, talents and self-confidence. They’re also learning how to be good teammates and work together for the greater good of the team, which is incredibly important in all our sports programs. I give all the credit to our elementary P.E. coaches and teachers who have worked so hard with the kids to put together the halftime drills and performances. Thanks to them, the talent and desire to be a Yellow Jacket is alive and well among all our Denison students…even our elementary athletes.”

Lamar P.E. teacher Lisa Mitchell said it was amazing to see how excited her fourth graders were to get the opportunity to showcase their skills during halftime activities. “It gave them confidence that they can be part of a team and even shine individually,” said Mitchell. “Seeing the skills of the Varsity team was impressive to not just our Lamar athletes, but also to Coach Bollinger and myself. Watching the committed varsity athletes play gave our kids the incentive to hopefully be on that court someday, the motivation they need to dream big and work hard. Today’s Lamar Leopards…tomorrow’s Denison Yellow Jackets!”

Robin Trammel, veteran P.E. teacher at Houston Elementary, agrees. “Inspiration, dreams and the will to succeed start right here at the elementary level,” said Trammel. “Our young students look up to these older Varsity Yellow Jackets as their heroes, their role models. They also look up to their teachers and coaches, so it’s incredibly important that we all model good, positive behavior at all times, showing our kids how to be good sports and good teammates. Our very own Brooke Kohli actually served as a perfect role model for our kids when she stepped in and conducted our Houston halftime show after I came down with the flu. She did a really wonderful job…the kids loved her, and they all turned in a great performance! I think we’re all just extremely grateful to Coach Been for allowing us to be a part of this amazing program. It’s been fun…and so very good for our kids.”

Been was quick to thank the parents and PTO groups for helping to make the elementary program a success. “Everyone did such a wonderful job of helping us develop and grow this program, which will pay big dividends as these kids grow and mature. We were honored to host each elementary school at our games…each campus did such an amazing and awesome job. The kids loved it, our girls loved it, and the crowd loved it. We definitely hope to make it a tradition…because it’s always great to be a proud Denison Yellow Jacket!”

Lamar 4th graders gave an excited thumbs-up to a new school mantra, “Today’s Lamar Leopards…Tomorrow’s Yellow Jackets,” inspired by their recent participation in halftime activities at DHS Lady Jacket basketball games.

Houston Elementary 4th graders gathered in the stands after their halftime performance to watch the DHS Varsity Lady Yellow Jackets demonstrate their championship basketball skills. “Inspiration, dreams and the will to succeed start right here at the elementary level,” said Houston P.E. teacher Robin Trammel. “Our young students look up to these older Varsity Yellow Jackets as their heroes, their role models.”

A group of Lamar boys demonstrate their dribbling skills for basketball fans and families at a recent Lady Jacket district home game.

Lamar P.E. Coach Lisa Mitchell leads her 4th graders in a ball-handling exhibition during halftime ceremonies of a recent Lady Yellow Jacket home game. “The halftime show gave them confidence that they can be part of a team and even shine individually,” said Mitchell.

Developing and celebrating teamwork skills, as exhibited by Houston Elementary 4th graders before their halftime performance, is a big part of Coach Rod Been’s program to encourage interest in becoming future Yellow Jacket champions.


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