NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — Oftentimes, the biggest skill that an elite athlete can acquire is confidence; and after what was an impressive freshman year on the West Essex girls basketball team, Olivia Weiss is gaining it in droves.
“Every day in practice, I’m pushing myself to get better, and I have people that believe in me,” said Weiss. “So I know when I’m on the court if I just do my thing that things will happen for me.”
The freshman point guard was a catalyst for the Lady Knights’ 14-10 record, as Weiss averages more than 10 points per game and ended a handful of games with a double-double in points and rebounds.
“My focus is to prove myself this year because I worked hard this offseason to prove that I deserve a spot,” said Weiss, whose main goal this year was to make it onto the West Essex roster alongside her sister, Grace.
Wanting to ensure that nepotism played no part in the selection of the squad, Weiss made it a point to prove her worth on the team throughout training camp.
“It was my sister’s senior year and I wanted to spend the year with her,” she said. “I felt like I could do a lot for the team, and I wanted to prove to my coach and team that I am here to work hard.”
While sibling rivalry is sometimes good for competitive spirit, Weiss said she and her sister are more supportive of each other than anything else.
“Our coach always says we’re lucky to have each other because we push each other and we believe in each other,” she said. “She’s definitely a big part of my season and I hope that I had an effect on her in a good way as well.”
Although that stat book suggests otherwise, the adjustment to the varsity-sport life has been challenging for Weiss at times.
To help her get through the change of pace and scenery, Weiss said she has found a wealth of knowledge from teammate and fellow guard Halle Aschenbach.
“Watching Halle Aschenbach take a big role freshman year, I was able to bounce off of her and she helped me through that,” said Weiss.
Weiss and Aschenbach have become quite the backcourt duo for West Essex over the past season. Comparable to that of the Golden State Warriors, the tandem is first and second, respectively, on the team in scoring.
When Aschenbach has an off day, Weiss is able to pick up the slack for the Knights—a point that was proven in a recent defeat at the hands of Payne Tech.
During that game, Weiss produced the highest scoring game of her career to date, nearly finishing with a double-double to keep the game within a single possession.
“They took away [Aschenbach] and I had to step up my game,” said Weiss. “Even though we lost, my coaches told me they thought I stepped up for the team, and we wouldn’t have been in the game if I didn’t step up.”
Although she has already accomplished a lot this year, the freshman continues to set her sights high for the remainder of the season and her varsity career.
Currently at 228 points, Weiss is looking to reach 250 in order to keep pace toward her goal of becoming a 1000-point scorer for West Essex. In hopes of achieving that, Weiss continues to work on all elements of her game.
“Everything from ball handling to shooting, one-on-one moves, [I’m trying] to get better every day and every day matters,” said Weiss. “[State playoffs] will definitely challenge me, so I’m hoping to play my game, stay strong and hope for the best.”
Weiss made her West Essex postseason debut on March 2 against Indian Hills in hopes of leading West Essex to the next round of the North 1, Group 3 state playoffs. Despite the team’s loss on Monday, 43-32, Weiss had three points in the game as well as four rebounds and four assists.