Teanna Amodo has always played basketball with the guys.
So, you can imagine her surprise this winter when she picked up a girls basketball — two inches smaller in circumference and 4 ounces lighter than a boys basketball — and shot it for the first time.
“The ball just flew through the air differently,” said Amodo, a junior at Akhiok.
The hoopster with glasses will get ample opportunities to adjust to a new ball over the next few months as a member of the Kodiak ESS girls basketball team.
Kodiak ESS — a sports team for the Kodiak Island Borough School District’s rural schools — was created in 2012. Since the inception of the program, the few girls who turned out for basketball were forced to play with the boys because there wasn’t a team for them.
Now there is. In fact, because there are not enough boys, it is the only team ESS is fielding this hoops season.
“I’m looking forward to having fun and getting to play with the girls,” Amodo said. “Learning how they play along with me.”
ESS tipped its eight-game regular-season schedule Thursday evening with a 72-37 loss at Birchwood Christian in Chugiak. Amodo scored 35 of her team’s 37 points.
The Ravens will play in the 1A Peninsula Conference, which sends two teams to the state tournament in April.
Port Lions fielded the rural school’s last girls team in 2011. That season, the Kings capped off back-to-back 1A state titles with a 46-37 victory over Kivalina at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.
Amodo, being a youngster at the time, didn’t follow rural hoops back then. She started playing basketball in the fifth grade, mostly at open gyms battling older boys.
“We leave in a village, and there isn’t really much to do,” she said. “You find an interest in something, and you just work towards it and get better and better each day.”
The basketball court in Akhiok is half the size of a regular court and doesn’t have any markings except for a free-throw line 15-feet away from the hoop.
“All you need is a hoop,” Amodo said.
By the time Amodo reached eighth grade, she was elevated to the ESS boys basketball team — middle schoolers are allowed to play if there are not enough high schoolers to fill out the squad at the 1A level in Alaska.
She not only played but started the next three years, draining 3-pointers and battling for rebounds with guys taller and stronger than she was.
“I enjoyed it a lot,” Amodo said. “It made me a much stronger player than most girls.”
Kodiak ESS coach Phyllis Amodo — also Teanna’s mother — is excited to be part of this groundbreaking team.
“I’m very anxious to see Teanna participate with all girls,” Phyllis Amodo said. “She has often wondered what it would be like to play with girls, and this year she gets to find out.”
Not unlike a lot of 1A teams, ESS has a limited roster of six players — four from Akhiok and one each from Old Harbor and Port Lions.
“We will see how conditioned they are,” the coach said.
Teanna Amodo is the only one on the roster who is returning from last year’s ESS squad. Desiree Eluska, Angel Christiansen, Claire Taylor, Jazmine White-Amodo and Ariana Amodo round out the roster.
It was a rough debut for ESS as Birchwood Christian led 23-0 after the first quarter.
Kodiak rebounded in the second quarter and cut the lead to 32-14 at halftime.
Amodo drilled three 3-pointers and scored all of Kodiak’s second-half points.
Eluska accounted for Kodiak’s only other points of the game — a field goal in the second quarter.
Kodiak ESS plays at Lumen Christi today.
Jan. 24 — at Lumen Christi. Jan. 29 — at Cook Inlet Academy. Jan. 30 — at Nikolaevsk. Jan. 31 — at Ninilchik. Feb. 19 — at Cook Inlet Academy. Feb. 20 — vs. Ninilchik at Cook Inlet Academy. Feb. 21 — vs. Birchwood Christian at Cook Inlet Academy. March 1-2 — at Peninsula Conference Championships.