CARPENTERSVILLE – The steps forward, at times, may be small. The success, on many occasions, may be difficult to measure.
But all Joe Benoit is asking his Jacobs girls basketball team to do along the way is to believe.
To believe in each other. To believe in a system that will require patience. To believe that even after games like Friday night's 67-35 loss to Hononegah at the Dundee-Crown Thanksgiving Tournament, there is always something to build on.
"Really, it's just about being positive every day," Benoit said. "Our kids buy into that and our kids believe."
In the process of building his young program, Benoit sees value in putting the Golden Eagles in front of teams like Hononegah. The Lady Indians grabbed control early, hitting 14 three-point field goals and delivering a shooting performance the likes of which Benoit hasn't seen before.
Benoit worked the sideline throughout the night, gesturing for Jacobs to be patient in an attempt to slow the game as much as possible. At times, the Golden Eagles struggled to deal with Hononegah's defensive pressure, committing 19 turnovers on a night full of teachable moments and on a night when Jacobs (1-2) had to believe in the bigger picture.
"That's how you get better – by playing good teams," senior Tiffany Frighetto said. "I believe in my team...We've been working so hard and one day, we will beat these teams."
Coming off a season when Jacobs won only two games, Benoit remans upbeat, stressing the positive over the growing pains on a daily basis, understanding it's the only way to bring a young team that includes two freshmen and two sophomores along. Junior Glenita Williams, who transferred to Jacobs from Dundee-Crown and led the Golden Eagles with seven points, sensed that her new teammates aren't in the business of giving up.
And even after a loss like Friday's that could have been difficult for a young team to bounce back from, Williams knows that Jacobs will eventually find its footing.
"I'm happy – we all came out, we all gave it our all and we didn't give up," Williams said. "But we all believe. That's all it's about is believing. It's not about how big we are – it's about how big we play."
It's that belief, Benoit said, that will carry Jacobs through the tough losses, keeping them focused on the daily improvement he is building a program around. On the nights when more talented teams are able to pull away early, like Hononegah did in building a 24-point lead by halftime, Benoit will tell his team to believe in itself and to keep on task.
And as many baby steps as it takes for the Golden Eagles to get to where Benoit believes they can eventually arrive it, the journey – he believes – will be worth it.
"I think we got better tonight, believe it or not," Benoit said. "That's kind of our simple motto this season: Just get a little better every day. Tonight, honestly, I think we did."