What will be Callie Bemis’ next act?
After shifting to point guard last season, when she played the position for the first time, the Antioch senior is interested in singing the national anthem before a game.
“I really do enjoy singing,” said Bemis, who is in the school choir. “I’ve sang the national anthem before — but not for a game. But I’m not sure I want to do it.”
Don’t be surprised if she changes her tune. Bemis was placed in another unfamiliar position when Antioch coach Tim Borries put the ball in the shooting guard’s hands during the summer before her junior season. She couldn’t have guessed where that would take her.
“I remember coach threw the ball to me one day in summer practice and said, ‘OK, Callie, you start it,’” Bemis said. “I was standing at half-court. I was thinking there’s no way he wants me to bring the ball up. I was so unsure of myself.
“It was very nerve-wracking. I wasn’t thinking I was going to play point guard. I had never done it before.”
Borries, who intends to retire from coaching after the season, acknowledged he demands a lot from his players, especially his point guard. He said he wants them “to focus on what I’m saying, not my tone.”
“I didn’t give her any slack,” Borries said. “There were times where she wanted to walk out of the gym mad at me. At the beginning of this season, we had a love-hate relationship. I’ve known her since sixth grade. You could see the frustration on her face last year.”
The 5-foot-7 Bemis, a third-year varsity player, said she had many frustrating nights adjusting to the position while becoming the Sequoits’ primary scorer.
“I wasn’t super confident at all,” she said. “In our first game, I was a wreck. I was so nervous before the game. I was shaking before the jump ball, knowing I might catch the ball and have to take the ball up the court.
“Most of my junior year was pretty frustrating. Point guard didn’t come naturally to me.”
Bemis said she finally “started getting it” last summer. Her numbers show her improvement. After averaging 8.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.0 steals last season, she has jumped to 11.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 3.5 steals for the suddenly resurgent Sequoits (13-8, 6-3). They’ve won four in a row and sit in third place in the Northern Lake County Conference.
“I think about my transformation from a year and a half ago and how everything has dramatically changed,” she said. “I’m finally settled in and understand my limits and strong suits. I’m more confident — plus my team believes in me. I feel complete.”
Borries gushes when discussing Bemis’ success story.
“She’s all over the place,” Borries said. “She has a knack for the ball. She’s a very active player on both ends of the court. She may have an off night shooting but will make up for that with four or five steals or three or four assists.
“I’m not the easiest coach. My style is very demanding. Callie is like a coach on the floor. She gets it now. I think the transformation of being a role player to being a really good point guard in her senior year is a phenomenal story.”
Bemis has become a leader, even talking to the team during halftime and writing bullet points on the board. She said she is considering becoming a coach one day — all because of Borries.
“The growth from my freshman year to senior year is so crazy,” she said. “It’s made my senior year so much more memorable and fun. All those hard practices, tournaments and AAU finally made things come together.
“Coach Borries has really impacted my game. I used to think he was crazy. Everything has clicked this year. Coach deserves so much credit. Coach has his ways. He saw something in me — being a leader on the court and taking control of the game. He always had a plan.”
Bobby Narang is a freelance reporter for the News-Sun.