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Julia Kuhn earned her spot on the Tigers’ varsity roster as a freshman and hasn’t looked back. (Photo courtesy of Julia Kuhn )
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Julia Kuhn walked into the gym as a freshman at Daniel Hand High School, feeling hopeful that she would secure a spot on the varsity roster with girls’ basketball squad. Although she came up short at the start, Julia used that setback to fuel her fire and strive toward her goal, and she wound up making varsity during the year. Now a junior, Julia has established herself as one of Hand’s top players at the guard position.
“I have been playing basketball ever since I was six years old. My friends, my love for competition, and watching the UConn women’s basketball team got me into it,” Julia says. “I was devastated when all of my friends made varsity my freshman year, but I didn’t. This was very hard for me, especially because I enjoyed playing with them. I used that as motivation to work hard and was able to get there by the end of the season.”
Tigers’ Head Coach Tim Tredwell says that Julia is one of his favorite success stories of his career. Tredwell remembers when Julia scored 27 points in her first JV game—a performance that let everyone know she was on her way to the varsity floor.
“Julia started her 9th-grade season practicing with the JV, but after she scored 27 in her first sub-varsity game, she’s been a fixture at the varsity level ever since,” says Tredwell. “By the end of that season, Julia was our first guard off the bench for a team that reached the state semifinals. A year later, she’s starting for team that got all the way to Mohegan Sun.”
Julia’s junior season proved a huge success for both herself and the Tigers. Hand won the SCC Quinnipiac Division title and advanced all the way to the Class L State Tournament quarterfinals, before the tournament was halted due to COVID-19. When all was said and done, the Tigers finished the season with an excellent record of 20-4.
Julia says that Hand’s first victory of the year set a triumphant tone for the success that would follow.
“My favorite moment from this season was our first game versus Farmington. It was a super-close game, and all of us fought hard until the last second,” Julia says. “We kept them from scoring, which led us into overtime. We went back and forth, with tension high all throughout the gym. We ended up winning 48-43, and all of us worked as a team with this win. It was a great start to our season and showed us what we were capable of.”
Julia, a shooting guard, loves being a part of tightly contested games like the Tigers’ win versus Farmington. She enjoys walking off the court victorious with her teammates by her side.
“All that work that each and every one of us puts in and the teamwork we build upon pays off,” says Julia, who also plays soccer at Hand. “The feeling is one I can’t describe, especially because the incredible amount of work we do, we do together each day in practice. We are able to share that happiness and can use the win as motivation going forward.”
Julia was named Hand’s Most Improved Player in her freshman year and then won the team’s Defensive Player of the Year Award as a sophomore. In her junior season, Julia scored 12 points and had three steals when the Tigers took a 39-34 loss against Hillhouse in the Class L state final.
“Julia is such a hard-working, low-maintenance kid. She’s not going to be someone [opponents] game-plan for, but that’s when she’s most dangerous,” Coach Tredwell says. “Julia can hit the three and score in the paint, but she’s most effective on the defensive end. She reads situations well and always seems to be thinking one play ahead. Most importantly, Julia is a fantastic teammate.”
Julia plans on honing her skills throughout the offseason, so she can become an elite player in her senior year. Julia is going to be watching a lot of film, doing plenty of cardio work, and, of course, shooting hoops between now and then.
“To improve my game, I use a lot of the resources that Coach Tredwell gives, whether it’s drills, videos, or even game film that we have access to,” says Julia. “I practice in my driveway and often go right down the street to a court.”
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