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Jaden Watson is running the point for the North Haven boys’ basketball team after having a great campaign on the gridiron last fall. (Photo courtesy of Jaden Watson )
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Jaden Watson began his basketball career when he was nine years old, moving up the ranks alongside several people who are now his teammates with the North Haven boys’ basketball squad. A senior on the team, Jaden says the fact that everyone has played together for so long gives them the advantage of “knowing what each of us is capable of.” As they enter the home stretch of the regular season, Jaden and the Indians are working hard to earn a berth in the State Tournament.
“We’re doing better than last year and playing more together,” Jaden says. “We understand we all could be better and trust each other. We try to push each other and take what’s being said as motivation.”
When Jaden started high school, he competed for the North Haven freshman team, noting that he was “a lot shorter then.” As a sophomore, he primarily played on the JV team. In his junior year, Jaden earned a starting spot with the varsity squad.
“It’s about believing in yourself and trying to outwork the person on the other team,” says Jaden, a 5-foot-11 point guard. “If I’m guarding someone, I just want to outwork them. I like how point guard is kind of like quarterback and you get to run the offense, see where everyone is, and make sure they’re in their spots.”
While he isn’t a captain, Jaden still takes on leadership responsibilities as a senior and North Haven’s point guard. Most importantly, Jaden wants to have a positive influence on his teammates.
Head Coach Justin Falcon has worked with Jaden for the past four years. During that time, Falcon has seen Jaden grow as both a player and a leader on the court.
“Jaden brings senior experience and energy to the team every day. He’s a second-year starter who is ready for any situation that is thrown our way,” Falcon says. “Jaden does everything he can to make his teammates better. The kids love him, and he has a contagious smile that can bring the best out of his teammates.”
Jaden had another opportunity to bond with a group of teammates when he joined the North Haven football team last fall. Jaden played youth football growing up, but stopped playing after 8th grade.
“I was only 5-foot-4 and I felt like I would get smooshed,” says Jaden.
However, in his senior year, Jaden decided to step back on the football field at the urging of his sister Jacelle. While it was a challenge to join a team that had so many veteran players entrenched at their positions, Jaden was up to the task.
“I thought I could be good and help the team, and I like the competitiveness and aggressiveness of the sport,” Jaden says. “It was rough in the beginning, getting the coaches to see what I could do. But once the games started, I played more and eventually started.”
Jaden turned out to be one of the Indians’ top running backs, finishing the year with 900 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. He also had three interceptions as a defensive back. North Haven came up short of the playoffs with its record of 6-4, but overall, Jaden was pleased with the season.
“The season went pretty good, especially for my first year,” says Jaden, an honors student who also enjoys music. “One year wasn’t enough.”
Jaden feels thankful to the coaches that he’s worked with through the years, as well as his family for their support. Jaden especially appreciates his sister for nudging him back into football, his grandmother for encouraging him to sing, and his parents and younger siblings for coming to his games.
Jaden plans to attend Gateway Community College and try out for the school’s basketball team. Jaden’s long-term goal is to transfer after two years, potentially to a school where he can play football.
“I’m going to keep working out and try to walk on for basketball,” Jaden says. “I had never thought about football in college, but I know I can compete. I was given the skills and the talent, but I’d have to build myself up to be able to play with those big players.”
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