This Maryland high school player profiles series is presented by the U.S. Army.
By Liz O’Connell, CountySportsZone.com
Though Janiece Bennett got a late start at Joppatowne High School after transferring from a rival high school, she excelled in three sports as a junior and senior.
But despite only two years at Joppatowne, Bennett’s smile and hustle left a lasting impact.
The 5-foot-11 athlete immediately showed she was a force to be reckoned with in volleyball and basketball. She was going to run hurdles for the track team until the pandemic ended the spring season.
Bennett’s height and athleticism allowed her to step right into a power forward position for Joppatowne, according to girls’ basketball coach Erica Kelly. Bennett had double-digit rebounds nearly every single game.
“She’s been developing her practice and you can see her vertical ability,” Kelly said. “She has a lot of hustle, knows how to pass and has great hands.”
Luckily, the transition was smooth for Bennett. She was familiar with players on the basketball team since they played AAU ball together. Plus, the team had a special camaraderie, Kelly noted.
Bennett organically grew into a leader and captain for the Mariners. She became a leader in practices and games alike.
“In practice she wanted to grab a JV girl and work on free throws, post moves, jump shots,” Kelly said. “If a player got hurt, she was the first person to bend down, pick them up and pat them on the back.”
Kelly said it was incredible to have a player echo her message to the rest of the team. Hearing that message from a teammate served as motivation for the rest of players, according to Kelly. And even though Bennett graduated, her passion and work ethic will be remembered by the team.
Plus, Bennett always came with a smile on her face.
“She just laughed all the time,” Kelly said. “I will never forget how happy she was all the time and how she hustled and how passionate she was. I will never forget that as a coach.”