On and off the court, this Bear River senior has … Personality to spare | TheUnion.com

On and off the court, this Bear River senior has … Personality to spare

The student section for Bear River girls basketball games chants her name, her fellow students elect her to student government and pick her as their 2004 Winter Homecoming Princess, while opposing coaches cringe as she drops in high-arching three-pointers seemingly without any effort.

No one will deny that Karli Kephart is an outstanding basketball player, but it’s not only her charisma on the court that makes her a fan favorite, but also her energetic, happy-go-lucky personality that endears her to people of all ages.

Bear River coach Jeff Bickmore compares his senior guard to the character Norm in the old popular TV sitcom Cheers.

“She walks in the gym and everyone yells, ‘Karli!’ and is happy to see her,” Bickmore said. “She’s just always the life of the party.”

Ask Kephart about the chants from the crowd or her ability to befriend just about anyone and she’ll shrug, smile and explain that it just comes naturally.

“I guess I just have an outgoing personality,” Kephart said. “I love to reach out to everyone and enjoy keeping people entertained.”

What a spectator sees of Kephart on the court is very much like what they see of her in everyday life as well.

She handles the pressures of basketball with ease, as Bickmore points out he will miss her composure on the court when she graduates and her ability to make those around her feel more confident.

This past summer Kephart worked with the Link Crew program at Bear River High School, which helps eighth graders make the transition to high school. During the fall, Kephart and the crew would visit classrooms, chat with freshmen in the halls, organize pizza and pep rallies and generally do what they could to make the new freshman feel like a part of their new school.

Reaching out to freshman didn’t stop in the halls, as this year’s Bruins basketball team is noticeably younger with a freshman and a sophomore in the starting lineup. Kephart does what she can to give the younger players the confidence they would need to make the team stronger.

“She is so accessible to our younger players and completely approachable,” Bickmore said. “She isn’t intimidating to them and has been able to show the younger players that she is behind them.”

Freshman guard Chandre Uno is one such player who has benefited from Kephart’s attention.

“She has been so nice and accepting and doesn’t treat me any differently even though she is a better player,” Uno said. “She is always there for me on the court, too, especially when I’m stuck and need someone to pass to.”

Kephart’s support doesn’t end when practice does either, as she often gives Uno a lift home after practice.

Leadership is something that has always come naturally to Kephart and a role she embraces. This year she was elected Associate Student Body Vice-president at Bear River and looks forward to the time she spends in her leadership class.

While she is enjoying her senior year and time on the basketball court, Kephart admits that as the season draws to an end she is beginning to feel sad when she thinks about the possibility of not playing basketball anymore.

Through 18 games this season Kephart is averaging 11.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game. Her Bruins team is 14-4 overall and off to a 6-0 start in the Pioneer Valley League.

As of now, Kephart is unsure of her college plans, including what school she will chose and whether or not she will play basketball. She’s still waiting to hear back from some schools and doesn’t anticipate making her decision until sometime in March.

But for now, Kephart’s eyes are focused on getting her team as far as it can go in the playoffs and winning a Pioneer Valley League Championship. And you better believe the stands will be packed with Kephart-admirers every step of the way.

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