After four years as the freshman basketball coach, Elissa Ojeda wants to help athletes become better humans

Halley Laurent, Guest Writer

Elissa Ojeda on the sidelines coaching the girls’ basketball team

     A light mist hung in the air and a slight breeze swirled around the track. The coaches yell and encourage the athletes as they stride by. Many different types of athletes all hang around the track and compete individually, in groups, and as a whole.  

     Why do people choose to participate in a sport like this? It’s due to the coaching and connections made. It may be a sport but it’s also a way to learn about many important aspects in life. One of the coaches is Coach Ojeda.  

“I really like to see how kids can learn about life and become better humans,” Ojeda said. 

     Ojeda is the head Trailridge Middle School girls’ basketball coach and the freshman basketball coach as well as the varsity assistant track coach here. In addition, Ojeda is a member of the NW Class of  2013. She played soccer, basketball, and track here and was coached by basketball coach Jeff Dickson who became her biggest inspiration. 

      “He always believed in me from day one,” Ojeda said. “And he saw certain characteristics in me that I didn’t see in myself.”

      Ojeda went to college at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. Her sophomore year of college a coaching opportunity opened at Lawrence High. It was a good fit because Coach Dickson had moved to LHS in 2014. She was hired as the freshman girls’ basketball coach. She coached for three years until she came back to Northwest after graduating from the University of Kansas with a teaching degree. She is in her fourth year as a teacher and coach here.

     Ojeda, now in her fourth year as a NW teacher and coach, says coaching has changed her.

      “I’ve learned a lot about how everyone has their own story and how everyone can bring something really special to the table,” Ojeda said.  

     Ojeda doesn’t care so much about the wins and losses on her teams, but more of the growth of the athletes as people. Her goals don’t revolve around a record or a reputation. 

     “My goal as a coach is to be successful,” Ojeda said. “And I measure that by the growth of the kid in a sport and as a person.

     Ojeda seems to be meeting her goal as a coach. Her players credit her for the improvements they have made.

     “Something I’ll take away from her is probably just always to push myself and do better and work harder,” freshman basketball player Olivia Martin said. 

     Some of these players are also her students in her math class. She admits that sometimes it gets stressful trying to teach and coach. 

      “Just making sure you’re connecting with the kids no matter whether it’s inside the classroom or outside of the classroom,” Ojeda said

Addison Pixton getting ready to start a relay

     When the bell rings at 2:40 p.m. to end the school day she still has another job to do.

     “It definitely gets stressful,” Ojeda said.

     Track practice ends around 5 p.m. every day from March through May. Additionally, due to Covid-19, the Trailridge girls’ basketball team’s season was pushed back this past year and this conflicted with track for a couple of weeks. During this time she would go from teaching, to track, and then to basketball.

     “You have to be really good at your time management,” Ojeda said

     She loves to make connections with her athletes and make sure they are doing fine on the court as well as in the classroom. 

     “She’s always reaching out and asking me how I’m doing and whenever I need anything with life or basketball, ” freshman basketball player Lydia Davis said. 

     Ojeda has taught her athlete the lessons they need in sports and in life.

     “We have learned a lot of lessons and not just about sports,” Martin said. “She has taught us how to be responsible in many ways.”

     Throughout her four years here, she has made an impact on many athletes. The varsity basketball team recently won the state championship this spring. This win has been her most memorable moment as a coach for many reasons because she is a part of the basketball program and has coached many of the athletes who won the state championship.

     “Because of how much it meant to not only me, the kids, but all of the other athletes that had gone through the program,” Ojeda said. 

     Ojeda is really passionate about the sports and loves what she does. She motivates everyone even especially in the middle of games.

      “In every team huddle, she always has the right things to say to motivate our team to do better,” Davis said.

Elissa Ojeda and her sister Ericka Ojeda after winning the girls basketball state championship

     On the court and field she is always making sure everyone is having a good day. She truly cares about her athletes and shows it through her actions day-to-day. There isn’t one day where she isn’t trying to make someone else’s day better for them. 

     “She’s always there for everyone and likes to get to know them and is personal,” Martin said. “She always knows what to say and how to help everyone get better.”

     As Ojeda’s coaching career continues, she has one main goal.

     “I want to be able to make the biggest positive impact I can on as many kids that I can,” Ojeda said.