WEBSTER GROVES — Ja’Mise Bailey made a difference Thursday before the opening whistle blew inside Roberts Gymnasium.
As the Webster Groves High junior guard explained after her girls basketball team’s 48-37 victory against visiting Lutheran South, she wanted to feel good about more than just winning a game.
Bailey said could leave the gym with her head held high because of something more than the 11 points she scored.
As Webster Groves athletics director Jerry Collins termed it, “thousands” of diapers were collected by fans from both teams in donations to a program called “Nurses for Newborns.”
“I got with my coach and we contacted Nurses for Newborns because I wanted to give back,” Bailey said of working with Webster Groves coach Josh Spuhl. “They said that they would like to (partner with the team) for a diaper drive.”
Spuhl said the determination shown by Bailey to make an effort to give back at the team's first game of the season was special.
“This was pretty awesome and Ja'Mise is a very special kid,” Spuhl said. “She's very thoughtful of others and we started something this year with pillars for our program and one of the pillars is community. This was her idea and she just ran with it. I'm really proud of her.”
One person who said she felt like a true winner Thursday was Nurses for Newborns CEO Melinda Monroe.
“It's so touching to have a community come together this way to help with such a basic need,” Monroe said. “It's something parents really can't go without if they have a young child. One of the basketball players knew about us, made a suggestion and it took off like wildfire. It's been amazing.”
Lutheran South coach Benjamin Ealick said even in defeat it was hard to leave with any bad feelings after the charitable work Thursday.
“We teach our kids that we're about more than basketball and this is one of those instances,” Ealick said. “We had the chance to fill a need in the community and make an impact that's greater than ourselves.”
On the floor, junior point guard Gabrielle Moore's 14 points led the way to the victory for Webster Groves.
Senior guard Courtney Lumpkins added 10 points to give the Statesmen three players in double figures.
Senior guard Chloe Akerson and senior forward Savannah Schmidt led Lutheran South with 10 points each.
“We had to just come out and play our game — we had to make shots and play good defense,” Moore said. “It starts with good defense, but then we have to play good offense. I think we did.”