- January 25, 2023
Jamie Springstead looked down at the ground and laughed when her records were mentioned.
It's not that she was embarrassed by talking about them. It's that, on some level, she still finds them hard to believe, despite being one of the best girls basketball players in the Sarasota-Bradenton area for almost her entire high school career.
Springstead, a Lakewood Ranch resident and a senior at Saint Stephen's Episcopal, broke the school's girls basketball scoring record as a junior. She surpassed 2001 graduate Amy Pullen's mark of 1,027 points, but was closing in on a different record heading into this season — the all-time school scoring record, regardless of gender. It was held by Mack Barnes, a 1981 graduate who scored 1,361 points.
The 5-foot-7 Springstead set a new record Jan. 6 in a 59-29 home win against Patel High. Springstead said she only realized she was getting close to the record when her coaches told her in the lead-up to the game. She entered with 1,357 points, just four points off the record.
With the record weighing on her mind, Springstead said she got off to a slow start before settling down and hitting three shots to break the mark. There was no time to celebrate the moment as Springstead was focused on leading her team to a win. She finished the game with 14 points.
"I'm just playing as hard as I can every night," Springstead said. "I want to make my senior season as great as it can be for all of us. I haven't thought about what I have (personally) accomplished much. I think once the season is over I will have time for that, to realize what I have done and how many points I have scored. But for now, I'm all in on my team."
In seventh grade, Springstead was polished enough to earn a spot on the Falcons' varsity team, but averaged just 6.1 points per game in 19 appearances. As an eighth grader, that average fell to 4.3 points per game. She was being timid. It wasn't until her freshman season that Springstead started living out her potential, averaging 9 points (and 5.5 rebounds) per game.
"I had all these seniors I was looking up to," Springstead said. "After watching them enough I thought, 'You know, I can do this too.' I started playing my game (as a freshman). Then the next year, I started taking over games."
Springstead averaged 16.1 points per game as a sophomore, then 17.3 as a junior despite missing time with an injury. As of Jan. 20, Springstead has scored 1,491 points in her career, with four games left in the 2021-2022 regular season.
The Falcons (11-6) are on the verge of a playoff berth. They have had to deal with numerous injuries to key players this season but Springstead has led the team through them all, averaging 18.1 points per game, the highest average of her career. That includes 32 points in a Jan. 20 game against Venice High (9-5), which the Falcons won 55-49.
Springstead, who is committed to Lake Forest College in Illinois, is listed as a guard on the Falcons roster but spends as much time in the paint as she does leading the team down the floor. She said it's an area where she always has felt comfortable. Her physicality gives her an edge over most players.
It's a reason why she leads the Falcons with 3.5 rebounds per game. Springstead's love of physical play goes back to her origins in the sport. When she was deciding whether to focus on basketball or soccer as her main sport, she chose basketball in part because it allowed her to use her strength to her advantage more than soccer did. She stopped playing soccer as a sophomore.
"The competition of it (basketball), fighting with other players, I thought it was so much fun," Springstead said. "It is my mentality. I want it (the ball) more than they do."
Springstead said she has worked to improve her 3-point shot this season and rebounding. Now when she gets a rebound, she uses her strength to make space for a put-back shot instead of passing back outside the paint.
She said anyone who needs to improve their scoring should practice as much as possible. She credits hard work for her ability to put up record numbers.
"The biggest thing is being comfortable doing everything," Springstead said. "If you're out there during a game and you're scared of making a mistake, then you're not fighting as hard as you should be and you won't play well. Keep practicing game situations."