Senior, starter, and lifelong Griffith resident Ariel Esquivel has been playing basketball since the third grade.
Esquivel attended elementary and middle school at St. Mary’s Catholic School, and then transitioned to Griffith High School for her high school education where she has played basketball each year.
“I love basketball because my dad always loved it, so I learned to love it just as much as him,” said Esquivel. “It’s such a great game with so many different elements and a fun way to stay active.”
Esquivel plays the shooting guard position on Griffith High School’s varsity girls basketball team.
This year, Esquivel broke the Griffith High School record for most points scored by an individual in girls basketball. This major accomplishment helped bring her senior year to an eventful close.
Esquivel said, “I was just so happy and proud of myself because I worked so hard to beat that record and it felt great.”
As a senior, this was Esquivel’s first time making it through the championship season and winning sectionals through the girl’s basketball program.
“I think we won sectionals because of how much time everyone put into basketball, and the will to just go out there and play hard as a team,” said Esquivel.
COVID-19 brought some distress and downfalls for senior athletes like Esquivel due to not knowing how much of a season is left. Many decisions were being made last minute with things change rapidly in this COVID-19 world.
“We all worked together by making sure we all pushed each other to be the best we could. We were all there for each other when things were tough,” said Esquivel, “Overall my year was kind of hard, but it was still pretty great. Winning sectionals definitely made it worth it.”
If there’s one takeaway Esquivel will cherish from the Griffith girls basketball program, it will be the relationships and bonds that she’s made with her teammates and coaches throughout the years.
Passionate, driven, and caring are just three words that describe Griffith girls basketball coach Steve Nestich.
Nestich is an eighth grade language arts teacher at Scott Middle School in Hammond, and is also part of the coaching staff for the Lady Panthers at Griffith High School.
Nestich has coached basketball of all levels, ranging from youth to travel teams, for 28 years. He began coaching when his daughters decided to play the sport as children.
“I have always loved and coached basketball, but it became so much more important when my daughters started to play,” said Nestich. “Basketball has been an integral part of our family activities for years. Coaching my daughters and other girls at practices, games, and travel tournaments has been some of the greatest highlights of my life.”
Coaching during COVID-19 was definitely not an easy task as things are constantly changing.
“The uncertainty of COVID-19 was the biggest factor; you never knew when there would be a shut down,” said Nestich. “Our schedule changed several times and the girls did their best to adjust to the changes.”
Nestich was an important factor in helping the girls get to the sectional game this season for the first time in seven years.
“At the beginning of the season, we said the goal was that we wanted to win the sectional on our home court at Griffith. Watching the girl’s hard work make that goal a reality, and it was an amazing accomplishment,” said Nestich.
Outside of coaching basketball, Nestich enjoys spending time in the summer outdoors in his backyard gardening, or vacationing with his wife of 29 years, Tammy, and his two daughters, Paige and Grace.