Lady Eagles lose quiet leadership

On the court, senior post Chelsea Garrison is known for taking over the paint, blocking shots and halting lay ups before they get near the basket.

But off the court, Chelsea Garrison is known for her quiet leadership and gentle spirit.

“My goal was to lead by how I play,” said Chelsea, “I didn’t have to be the most vocal or the best player, but I do my best and have a good attitude.”

“Chelsea hates to get mad,” said her sister and teammate sophomore Kami Garrison. Kami also said her sister is very merciful, calm and loving.

Chelsea agreed with her sister, saying she doesn’t like conflict and wants people to get along.

This was important to Chelsea when she began her college search four years ago. Finding a team that valued each other and was not riddled with conflict was her biggest concern.

“I had heard horror stories from friends on other basketball teams about how much they hated their team,” said Chelsea.

When she visited JBU, she said it “felt like home,” largely because she knew the coaches and other girls on the team “loved the Lord.”

Head Women’s Basketball Coach Jeff Soderquist said they began to scout Chelsea her junior year of high school.

“It didn’t take us long watching her to know she was a special player,” said Soderquist.

Two years later her younger sister Kami joined the team.

Kami said part of the reason she knew she would like playing at JBU is because her sister Chelsea loved the team so much.

Chelsea said at first the coaches were nervous about two sisters on the roster bringing tension to the team, especially since they played the same position and would face off against each other in practice, but they soon realized that would not be a problem with Chelsea and Kami.

“It’s been really great to have Kami on the team,” said Chelsea, “We always work to make each other better.”

Both Garrison sisters said they get along very well and are very close.

Soderquist credits their parents at least in part for both Garrison sisters’ strong character.

Kami credits the two seniors, Chelsea and Brittany Hopper, for how well the women’s basketball team gets along with each other.

Chelsea described Hopper as “the spirit of the team” with her vocal, energetic style of leadership.

If Hopper is the spirit of the team, Chelsea is the heart.

“If we are down in a game she keeps playing her hardest. She doesn’t want to give up,” said Kami about her sister.

Chelsea has also developed close relationships with many freshmen on the team, especially Lauren Rogers. Chelsea said she is looking forward to watching Rogers next year though she will miss playing with her.

“She really made the freshmen feel welcomed,” said Kami about her sister.

Soderquist said both of this year’s seniors are happy people who see the glass as half full.

Both of the seniors led the team devotional before their last game of the season. They told the girls to use their God-given talents and to appreciate the opportunity they have to be part of JBU’s women’s basketball team.

“Being part of the girl’s basketball team is like being part of a family,” said Cheslsea.

She said a key part of that family is the coaches.

“The coaches dedicate so much time to basketball and to us,” said Chelsea.

She said Soderquist always made sure she and the rest of the team remembered they were not just at JBU to play basketball, but also to get a degree.

“I think the big thing is Brittany and Chelsea bleed blue and gold,” said Soderquist. He said their passion for the program and the university is contagious and helps to motivate and encourage underclassmen on the team.

“The two of them have really dedicated themselves to this program in different ways and are really appreciated,” said Soderquist, “They will definitely be missed.”

Both seniors plan on staying in the area next year and continuing to be involved with the team.

“I want to be an encouragement to the girls and be there for whatever they might need,” said Chelsea.