Abigail Ebana wasn’t sure she could do it.
Jonathan Michels knew she could.
Ebana is a sophomore at Frankford High School, and when she got to high school, she decided she wanted to give basketball a shot. That’s when she met Michels, the Pioneers’ girls basketball coach.
Though the novice freshman come into her first season without any experience, she quickly earned a starting varsity position.
She wasn’t sure if she was ready, but turns out, she was.
“Honestly, it was pretty scary,” Ebana said. “Mentally challenging. It’s something I’ve never done before. I didn’t think I was able to do anything like I’m doing. If you would have told me that I’d be here, currently, I would have denied it. Coach knew. He tells me to this day. He always told me I had more. I know sometimes it’s mentally challenging. If you don’t see progress or think you see progress, you have to see it. Keep your head up.
“I don’t know what he saw, but he helped me get better. I didn’t know what I was doing. He always asked me to give it everything. I did that, and it worked out. I’m really happy with how far I’ve come and how far we’ve come.”
No longer a rookie, Ebana is still learning, but she’s way more comfortable with being a starter on a very good basketball team.
The Pioneers are 9-3 on the season, 4-2 against Public League divisional foes.
And Ebana is more than doing her part.
“I’m a small forward, but I play multiple positions, I’ll do anything we need,” the Frankford native said. “I like small forward, I like that I have the ball. I feel free at the three. I would say I’m the glue of the team. I’m not the best player. I’m the one that is able to play interchangeable, as coach said. I can get rebounds, I can be on the ball for a little bit, I can do everything. I’m not the best, but I can do what I have to do. I think it just happened that way. Whatever we need, I do.”
She’s not just learning about the game.
She’s learning how to be the best teammate, too.
Ebana is very well liked on the team. That’s not something she had to work on.
But basketball teams always need someone to show the rest of the team the ropes.
That’s something she’s happy to do.
“I’m definitely doing more for the team this year,” Ebana said. “I would say this year is much better. Last year, it was more, ‘I’m just doing it.’ This year, I’m able to do more. I know what I’m doing, so I try to help.
“I’m just having fun and trying my best. This year, I have more responsibility. Coach sees something in me, so I have to see what he sees in me. He was the reason I did well last year, and this year he’s helping me get even better.”
The feeling is mutual.
The only reason Michels continues to push his protege is because he knows she can do it. And he’s going to continue to ask more from her.
He wants to see her continue to improve.
“Abigail is such a mature kid, our players voted her to be one of our captains,” Michels said. “She is a 3.98 (grade point average) student and she is the glue of our team. She is exactly what every 15-year-old should be.”
She also does more.
In school, Ebana was elected to student council. She’s learning to lead in the classroom as well as on the court.
“It’s a great thing that they elected me because you get to learn about things going on behind the scenes at school, and help,” Ebana said. “Like the dances, how they’re planned. The little events that go on around the school. There’s so much going on, you see how it all works, and help in the planning. I love it.”
She also loves to be hospitable.
That’s why she joined Frankford’s hospitality club.
“We learn new skills and how to be hospitable to people in all environments,” Ebana said. “We learn how to treat people in a professional setting. It’s very interesting. I heard good things before I signed up, and my teacher told me I’d like it, so I said, ‘Why not?’ I’m really glad I did it.”
Just like basketball.
Ebana has proved she isn’t afraid of trying new things. Next on her agenda, winning a title at Frankford.
It won’t be easy, the Public League is always tough, but she loves what the Pioneers have, and she’s ready to go to battle.
“We have a really good team and we’re playing together,” said Ebana, who enjoys watching TikToks and binge watching shows like Abbott Elementary. “We have the players. We are very good. We have to listen to our coach. We can’t give up. If we play hard and don’t give up, we can do anything.”