Noah Leddel and Josh Pak: Underclassmen Unexpectedly Take APAC by the Storm
HKIS boys dominated at Super APAC basketball this weekend, winning almost every game by 10 to 20 points. This success was achieved in part thanks to Noah Leddel (9), point guard, and Josh Pak (10), forward, who were recognized as two of our team’s best players by anyone who watched the finals—a rare case of underclassmen in the spotlight.
Coach Evans had low expectations for the team at the beginning mainly because many senior players graduated last year, but the underclassmen exceeded all expectations by compensating for the loss completely.
“We were kinda like a Cinderella team in the beginning. We weren’t very good—we had low expectations,” said Josh.
As the tournament went on, however, the players felt more comfortable. “My shooting wasn’t on in the first couple games, but toward the end of the tournament, I started to feel a lot more confident in myself,” Noah said.
A huge factor in the boys’ success was the team’s welcoming and inclusive attitude. All the players looked beyond the age divide, taking underclassmen under their wings. Noah explained, “They trusted our ability to put the ball in the hoop, passing to us. Even under pressure, they knew that me and Josh had the ability.”
Contrary to the expectation that rigorous goals and standards yield results, the boys attribute their personal success to this low-pressure, friendly atmosphere with a focus on enjoying the sport. “I didn’t feel pressured at all. I had no expectation for myself and no one had any expectations for me, so I was able to stay confident,” Noah said.
“Just playing my game, contributing as much as I can to my team,” Josh said. “That’s all there is to it.”
When asked whether they’re considering pursuing basketball in the future, they adopted the same healthy mindset. Noah said, “For me, I’ll just work as hard as I can, see where it takes me. I don’t have a specific goal.” Josh echoed a similar sentiment, adding, “Yeah, just enjoy the game.”
Too often, in the pursuit of a goal, we lose sight of the passion that drives us in the first place. It takes a low-stakes, collaborative atmosphere to build skills and confidence, both in sports and any other field. Rather than adopting a competitive mindset, we should pursue our interests with the same passion that Noah and Josh exuded in every single Super APAC game.