Rachel Torres knew she had to be a true leader this season for the DeKalb girls basketball team. Not a cheerleader. Not a leader by example.
No, if the Barbs were going to succeed, Torres needed to be the type of leader who said harsh words when they were needed. She needed to be able to dig her team out of slumps with the tone of her voice. She needed to let it be known when her teammates weren’t working hard enough.
“Sometimes it’s hard to be the person that has to get angry when people aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing, they’re not working hard,” Torres said. “It’s hard to tell people your age that they need to do something else, because I don’t want to sound bossy. Before, I was all positive. This year, I tried to get on people and make them work hard.”
Torres led DeKalb to its third consecutive Northern Illinois Big 12 East championship and a 23-5 record, for which she was named Daily Chronicle Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
Filling the leadership void has been a work in progress for the soft-spoken senior. Last season, she tried to take control, but it didn’t necessarily come naturally.
“I wasn’t ready for it, but I stepped into it,” Torres said. “This year, I tried to step into that position instead of being forced.”
Of course, she also continued her progression on the court in her fourth varsity season. Torres averaged 11 points a game, a point more than last season, while taking better care of the basketball. She averaged two steals a game while struggling less with foul trouble.
“Rachel did a little bit of everything,” DeKalb coach Chris Davenport said. “For the most part of the season, she was one of our better defenders on the perimeter. Consistently, she was right around double figures or in double figures. She was required to do a lot. But being a four-year varsity starter, I think it came pretty easy for her.”
DeKalb didn’t make it as far as it wanted to after being bounced by Huntley in the regional semifinals. The Barbs didn’t reach their goal of besting last season’s super-sectional berth.
But the Barbs have accomplished quite a bit in Torres’s four years, including 91 wins and a sectional title.
While she certainly is disappointed with the way her career ended, time surely will put her standout career into perspective.
“A lot of our focus during the year was getting ready for the postseason and the state tournament, and then to have it end so quickly, it was hard for me,” Torres said. “I didn’t end it how I wanted to, so I’m still disappointed about that, but overall, it’s been a good four years.”