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Panting Panthers: Joel P. Jensen Basketball Coach Works the Basketball Team On and Off the Court

Mar 10, 2016 11:28AM ● Published by Bryan Scott

Tori La Rue | tori@mycityjournals.com

West Jordan - Fans of the Joel P. Jensen Middle School boys’ basketball team charged the court after the Panthers won their first game of the season against their rival team – the West Jordan Middle School Lions. That’s when Cody Calley, 15, Panther co-captain said he knew his team was delving into a successful season. 

The team has won four games so far this season and has a chance to beat the school’s record of five victories. Cody said it’s mostly because of their coach – Christian Wouden. 

Cody said he thinks Joel P. Jensen is the only team in their league that has conditioning days. Under the direction of Wouden, the team does strenuous exercises that build up their endurance in preparation for double-header games, Cody said. He said it’s the hardest part of being on the team but that it pays off. 

“When the other team is fading, we’re just getting started,” Cody said. 

As a coach, Wouden said he believes he should be a guide to the students on and off the court. 

“I try to help them remember that they are a student athlete – student first, athlete second,” he said. “If they’re having success off of the court, they’ll be feeling successful on the court and vice versa. Success transfers.” 

In addition to their three two-hour basketball practices a week, the team meets for group study hall on Tuesday afternoons. 

Ethan Bailey, a member of the team and student body officer, said study hall helps him keep up his grades with his extra-curricular activities and is a good opportunity to get to know his teammates in a different setting. 

Wouden said he encourages the group to eat lunch together to get to know each other better. 

For Wouden, basketball is more than just sport, he said. Wouden, who played basketball at Box Elder High School and Snow College, tells his team that while he doesn’t remember the number of games he won, he still remembers the friends he made and the moments they shared. 

“Coach Wouden puts the teamwork in it. When you just play with your friends for fun, you try to shoot every shot, but he helps you to see that it’s not just you, and that’s one reason why most guys have gotten closer,” Cody said. 

Oakley Copp, 14, said the team is a mixture of experienced and inexperienced players, but that they’ve gotten better as they’ve had more time together. 

Oakley and Cody, both co-captains of the team, had very different experiences on the court before the season began. While Cody had never played on a basketball team, Oakley had played in competitive leagues since he was little, but both bring leadership to the team, Wouden said. 

“This diverse team we have came together as a band of brothers,” Wouden said. “They all are very different, but they still come together and gel. That’s what makes this team unique.” 

Wouden, who’s coaching the team for the second year, said he explains to his players that there should be “no selfish players” on the team because the team is like a vehicle with wheels, an engine, doors and other critical parts. No part is more important than the other, but they have different roles, like each player and position on a basketball team, he said. 

Wouden doesn’t just teach this principle in word -- he shows this principle by participating in the team’s scrimmage games and practices, Oakley said. 

“I love when he plays basketball with us,” Oakley said. “He’s the toughest one to beat. It’s hard rebounding over a six-foot retired college player.”

Cody said he’s grateful for the experience he’s had playing basketball with Wouden and the rest of the team this year. 

“It’s a great time,” Cody said. “I’m close with Wouden, and I guess he’s the reason I decided to play.” 

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