Kayden Dooley wins Athlete of the Week
Published 11:14 am Saturday, January 13, 2024
The Valley Rams girls basketball team is currently 5-6 and 2-0 in area play. The team is very young and is being led by a freshman at point guard.
Most freshmen are just happy to make the varsity squad. Valley’s Kayden Dooley not only made the varsity team, but she has also become the star for the Lady Rams.
Dooley started playing on the varsity team when she was in eighth grade, but this season is Dooley’s first as a full-time starter.
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Since earning the starting role this season, Dooley has never looked back. Dooley is currently averaging 18 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals per game. The most remarkable part about Dooley is the confidence she plays with.
“I’ve been playing since I was a kid,” Dooley said. “I watch older people in the WNBA and in college, and it makes me want to get to their level like right now.”
Dooley is young, but she plays far beyond her years. Dooley’s confidence has allowed first-year head coach Eberne Myrthil to completely run the offense through the young star.
“It makes it easier,” Myrthil said. “She’s like a sponge, and she soaks in everything. She’s always asking questions, and she wants to get better.”
Dooley has helped Myrthil in his first year as Valley’s head coach, but Myrthil has also helped Dooley just as much. Myrthil has given Dooley the confidence to play freely on the court and facilitate Valley’s offense.
“When I get down on myself, he pushes me harder,” Dooley said. “He doesn’t let me get frustrated in the game.”
Several former and current coaches have helped Dooley grow into the player she is today. Dooley has also worked to model her game after other dominant players like Angel Reese, Candace Parker, Caitlin Clark and Flau’jae Johnson.
Dooley has had a lot of influences help her along the way, but few have had a greater impact than her brother Cam Dooley. Cam is currently a star player on Valley’s basketball team, and he is signed to play football at the University of Kentucky after he graduates.
Kayden and Cam have a rivalry as most siblings do, but at the end of the day, their support for one another is far greater than the competition between the two. Kayden is focused on following in Cam’s footsteps and continue adding to the Dooley name.
“We sometimes do, like who gets the most points in some games,” Dooley said. “Sometimes we’re in competition, but we really support each other a lot. Him being big makes me want to do what he was doing to make our family proud.”
Following in Cam’s footsteps also led Kayden to the football field. Valley High School added flag football last season, but Dooley first stepped on the field this season for the Rams.
Dooley immediately became a star in flag football. Dooley’s speed and size made her a dominant wide receiver. She helped the team get its first win in program history as she scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime.
At first, Dooley joined the flag football team because it gave her something to do over the summer. Now, Dooley believes that it has helped her to become more in shape and better on the basketball court.
“I really think flag football makes me jump a little higher and be in better shape,” Dooley said.
Dooley is a part of a young core that should eventually turn Valley into a dominant girls basketball program. The team has just two seniors on the roster. The roster is largely made up of freshmen and sophomores.
“We’re young,” Myrthil said. “It’s good because they get to grow together. I see a lot of potential for the future.”
Dooley is a dominant scorer, but she does not focus on just scoring the basketball. Dooley enjoys seeing her teammates shine, and she is constantly focused on making the right play each time down the floor.
“Passing the ball to my teammates and letting them score makes me proud too,” Dooley said. “Bringing the ball up the court and setting up the offense is a really big key to basketball.”
“She’s an unselfish player,” Myrthil said. “At her level, most kids want to take all the shots. She’ll make the right basketball play. As a freshman, you don’t find that too often.”
Dooley eventually hopes to earn a Divison I scholarship and play basketball at the next level. For now, Dooley is focused on accomplishing all that she can in her hometown.
“I want to make it to the state championship, but if we don’t, I want to go to Birmingham,” Dooley said. “I want to reach 1,000 points if [not] more.”