Senior class leads IDEA Frontier to historic season

Brownsville IDEA Frontier’s senior class set out to elevate the Lady Chargers’ basketball program before their careers came to a close, and they reached that goal in 2021.

Seniors Sheyla Cosme, Maria Martinez, Marissa Gonzales and Alma Medellin led their team to the school’s first district championship with an undefeated record in District 32-3A. Now, they have their sights set on getting their team past the first round of the UIL state playoffs for the first time in history, too.

“They’re four-year starters, and this is their last hoorah. They’ve been setting the tone. They’ve been going to the playoffs since they were freshmen, so they know what it takes,” Frontier coach Victor Leija said. “This is what they’ve wanted, what they’ve been talking about since they were freshmen, and their hard work is showing. We’re going in the right direction. The girls are confident in themselves and their teammates.”

The Lady Chargers will face Pharr IDEA today at 6:30 p.m. at home in the bi-district round, marking seven straight years advancing to the playoffs. With a district title in tow and coming off a big win over 31-3A champion Lyford in a warmup game, Frontier is cautiously optimistic that it’ll add another historic moment to the season by picking up a win.

Cosme, a shooting guard, leads the team in scoring and at the top of the defensive setup. She averaged 16.5 points and 6.5 steals per game in district play. Cosme said knowing her senior class made history this season leaves her speechless, and they’re ready to keep building their legacy.

“Throughout our years, we’ve always had the goal to make it to the second round in the playoffs. Having a season this year is an opportunity to actually meet our goal before we leave,” Cosme said. “I think we’re ready. We’ve been practicing and working really hard and this year, we know we’re going to get past the first round. We’ve all known each other for many years and played together for a while now, and the communication and the chemistry on the team helps us.”

The team’s chemistry is strengthened by Gonzales’ leadership style. Gonzales contributed 8.3 points and 2.5 assists per game, but Cosme also credited her with providing constant energy, motivation and support to her teammates. Gonzales said helping the Lady Chargers reach new heights has been amazing, and she hopes her class showed the younger girls how to continue elevating the program.

“I just love being that person they can come to for encouragement or advice whenever they need it,” Gonzales said. “The first round has always been that barrier we want to cross. We always tell (the younger girls) that if we do this and we’re able to move on, then it gives momentum for the following years. We’re always known to be the academic school, but now we’ve changed that stereotype and we’ve made history with our athletics, and doing that makes us really proud.”

Martinez said she’s proud of her teammates, especially her classmates, for “accomplishing something so big.” She credits the team’s strong bond and the trust they have in each other for helping Frontier mesh well on the court, and Leija agrees.

“I feel like something that makes us special is even if we’re down, we pick ourselves up and we communicate as a team about what we can do better. Since we have that chemistry with each other we’re able to better understand what we can do to improve as the game’s progressing,” Martinez said.

Medellin is Frontier’s post, and she used her size and athleticism to lead the team with 15 rebounds and 5.8 blocks per district game. Medellin is confident Frontier will advance to Round 2 because of the four years of hard work she and her classmates have put in, but also because of solid underclassmen doing their part.

One of those underclassmen is Medellin’s younger sister, Chely, who averaged 11.5 points and 4.5 steals during the district season. Alma Medellin called this a special season and a special team, and she thinks the Lady Chargers are ready to show doubters what Frontier is capable of.

“In past years we always get out in the first round, so now we have that motivation. We need to push ourselves and take advantage of the opportunity we have,” Medellin said. “Some people see us as, ‘Oh, it’s just IDEA Frontier. It doesn’t really matter.’ We want to put our name out there and say, ‘Hey, we’re here, too. We’re ready. Come and get it.’”