Chaug B-Ball Champ Slams Competition

Sophomore Jayla Comes makes national team, competes against players from around the world

Jayla+Comes+sinks+a+jumpshot.+She+has+been+competing+on+the+varsity+level+since+her+fresmen+year.

Jayla Comes sinks a jumpshot. She has been competing on the varsity level since her fresmen year.

Kate Tzoumas, Author

Sunlight beamed down on the hot court as a group of 4th-grade girls fought for the basketball. It all came down to who made the next shot. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a young Jayla Comes shoots the ball, in a desperate attempt to not go into a 9th overtime. As the ball lands, she hears the crowd erupt in sudden cheers.

Her team won. 

“I didn’t really think it was a big deal because it was my first AAU Girls Basketball tournament and I didn’t know what to make of it,” she explains, “but I was definitely proud.”

Jayla Comes, a sophomore at Minnechaug High School, has gained some notoriety in the last couple of years for her athletic abilities in basketball. Most recently, she made the national team for her basketball team, The Springfield Lady Ballers. The national team is a travel team that travels across the country to play teams from all over the country and world.

Comes first started playing basketball at three years old. 

“I actually didn’t like basketball; it was my least favorite sport,” Comes said. “I was more interested in soccer because basketball to me was kind of stupid.”

For Comes, basketball wasn’t her favorite sport until she was eight years old. In fact, the only reason she played basketball was because of her parents. 

“My parents put me into a bunch of different sports when I was little, trying to get me to be active,” she said. 

As soon as Comes realized how much she loved basketball she joined the AAU Basketball leauge to further develop her skills. 

“I really learned about the sport then and I noticed I was better than some of the girls, so I started taking it more seriously,” she said.

The next big step for Comes was joining the league’s national team. 

“Honestly I was in shock because, when I went into tryouts, I didn’t really expect to make nationals,” she said. “I thought I was aiming for the regional team, like the national team was kind of out of reach.” 

Sophomore Jayla Comes hopes to play Division One basketball in the future.

She explains how her parents played a joke on her: “They told me I made the local team; so when I found out I actually did make the national team, I was absolutely ecstatic.” 

Comes said her parents have been some of her biggest supporters.

 “They’ve driven me to every practice and I’ve got to say my parents have probably been my biggest motivators, especially my dad,” she said. 

Being on the national team has put a lot of things into perspective for Jayla; she can see how close she is to her goal of being a Division One athlete. 

She has attended college showcases where scouts from some of the best Division One and Division Two schools watch players. Many of her teammates have already received Division One offers. 

“I want to be able to experience college basketball not only for the scholarship but just to be able to play a college sport would be amazing,” Comes explains. 

When Comes joined the national team she knew it was going to be a bigger commitment. She knew she had to put in the work on and off the court. 

“Right before freshman year, I started training on the outside, doing my own drills, working out-wise, lifting weights,” she said. 

She had always trained outside of practice but for different reasons. 

“I always kind of trained for basketball by the time I was in 5th grade outside of practice because it was fun,” she said. “But now it’s more of I have to get better.”

There isn’t a single day she misses working out, even school days. 

“I lift weights every day and workout in the mornings before school.”

With the amount of practice and outside time she has to dedicate to basketball, it can get to be a struggle to balance her social and school life. 

“It’s a huge challenge for me,” she said.

 Most people only play basketball in the winter but for Comes, it’s a different story.

 “Basketball is all year round,” she says. “Between school and sports, it’s definitely hard and you have to get some time management skills.” 

“Between traveling to other states and other regions, I have missed school and lessons for basketball,” she explains and confesses she’s “thought back thinking ‘if I didn’t miss school I probably would’ve gotten a better grade.’” 

But, for her, it was worth it. “At the end of the day if I didn’t miss school I would’ve missed out on basketball.”

Even though the level of seriousness has changed, basketball is still the same for Comes. “It’s definitely still a getaway from other aspects of my life; it’s definitely still very fun for me,” she said.