A two-word text message — I’m next — put Amy and Bill Poffenbarger on pins and needles Thursday night.
Their daughter, Saylor, had just informed them she was moments away from a closed-door meeting with members of USA Basketball’s Olympic committee in Colorado Springs, Colorado. There, the younger Poffenbarger, a sophomore a Middletown High, was on the verge of finding out if she would make the United States’ 16-and-under national team.
“It was one of the longest waits,” Saylor Poffenbarger said. “I prayed the entire time I was waiting.”
Her last name had something to do with the long wait because the notification process for the 18-member player pool was being conducted in alphabetical order, so Saylor Poffenbarger was the 16th member of that pool to discover her fate.
“I kind of had mixed emotions the whole time,” she said. “I would get nervous and anxious, but then I would calm down. It was just up and down, up and down.”
Finally, she communicated through FaceTime with her parents at 9:45 p.m., delivering the news she had wanted to hear since the start of the high school season — and shedding quite a few tears in the process.
“I think they were tears of exhaustion, being able to finally go home because it’s definitely been hard being away from my family,” said Saylor Poffenbarger, who was named to the 12-member national team.
The exhaustion stemmed from having to compete for her spot since last Thursday.
Saylor Poffenbarger was one of 33 players who received invitations to the 16-and-under tryouts, but a host of others were also allowed to submit applications for the tryouts, bringing the total number of girls vying for a spot to 152.
“She did figure out where the closest Starbucks was,” said Amy Poffenbarger, who is also Middletown High’s girls basketball coach.
So Saylor Poffenbarger guzzled down a cup of sugared coffee every morning.
Since last Thursday, players slogged through three-a-day practices for two days and two-and-day practices since Saturday. Saylor Poffenbarger and others survived a round of cuts on Saturday and two more on Sunday before the Olympic Committee whittled down the pool to 18 on Monday.
Saylor Poffenbarger was scheduled to take a plane home from the United States Olympic Training Center Friday, but then she will return to Colorado Springs on Wednesday to train with the team. On June 13, Team USA will travel to Puerto Aysen, Chile, for the 2019 FIBA Americas U16 Championship, which takes place June 16-22.
“We are so excited and so proud for Saylor,” Amy Poffenbarger said. “She’s a blessed young woman — God has really blessed her with talent, and as parents, it’s tough to go through this so far away from her.”