Chestatee’s Peyton Robertson was shown the ultimate sign of respect by her teammates when she was named a team captain, even though it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise.
Robertson’s popular with her teammates and loaded with potential as a basketball player.
However, the kicker to the story is that her high school career hadn’t even gotten off the ground yet when she was named one of the three team captains.
Robertson was only a freshman.
“It was shocking to have a freshman named as a team captain,” Chestatee coach Web Daniel said. “But girls are good at knowing who else is good at basketball, and Peyton has worked extremely hard.”
Now it would be easy to write off Robertson’s early accolades to the composition of the team. Her ninth grade year at Chestatee she was one of eight freshmen on a roster of 13 players. Still, Robertson, now a junior, led the team with 12 points per game.
That quick start to her career has certainly been a reason why Robertson has been able to practically re-write the program’s record books in such short time.
Just before Christmas, Robertson scored 37 points in a win against White County to become the first girl’s player at Chestatee to hit 1,000 points. She passed 500 career rebounds in the same game.
However, Robertson’s mother, Jeanne Sutton, says that her daughter hasn’t let all this success get to her head. Robertson, who now stands 6-foot-2 and is getting recruited primarily by smaller Division I programs at this stage, has had it instilled from her mother that the experience of playing with a group of teammates she’s been with since their days at Lanier Elementary and Chestatee Middle School is more important that being the leading scorer.
“Peyton is a very sweet girl and well grounded,” Sutton said. “I’ve said if she wanted it to be all about her, she should go play golf.”
“We’re all really proud of her and what she’s accomplished,” Robertson’s brother, Brett Robertson said. “She’s always been good at basketball, but never been cocky about it.”
And being a highly regarded high school prospect is part blessing and part curse. You’re praised for being so great at a particular sport, but at the same time demanded to always be going against other top competition to sharpen your skills, as is the case with Robertson.
Robertson not only plays for Chestatee High during the regular season and summer games that are attached to the back end of the school year for returning players, but also maintains a grueling schedule of AAU basketball, mostly recently with the Atlanta Celtics, which all together adds up to more than 100 games each year.
That means leaving straight from school on practice days and driving to Shiloh High in Snellville to join her AAU team. She admits that her most recent AAU experience wasn’t as fun as playing with her friends she pals around at Chestatee.
“I just adapted to (playing AAU),” Robertson said. “The biggest difference is that the girls playing AAU basketball are more athletic, and you have to do something with the ball when you get your chance.”
Traveling for basketball has also become a part of the bond between Robertson and her mother. Last summer, it was just the two of them as they drove to the University of Indiana for a tournament. They took the upwards of eight hours driving each way to talk about everything in life — some important and some trivial.
However, Robertson’s mom has made it clear that basketball is a vehicle to becoming successful in life. Sutton, who says she doesn’t miss any of Peyton’s games and coached her from first through sixth grade, wants her daughter to use the experience of playing basketball to translate into becoming a successful adult.
“These are some of the greatest days of her life,” Sutton mom said. “When this is all over, life begins.”
Even with an emphasis on life after basketball, the sport has always been a common ground for this family. Robertson’s mom played at North Hall, and Brett played for four years with the War Eagles before Robertson got to high school. The junior power forward also has two cousins, Blake and Dustin Masters, that played at Chestatee.
“I’ve always loved basketball and grew up in a gym,” Robertson said. “If I wasn’t playing, I was watching.”
Growing up, Robertson’s also had the privilege of having a basketball half court in the backyard, which has turned into a training ground to soak up knowledge of the game from her brother and also pass along what they know to their 10-year old half-brother Joseph.
Playing backyard ball eventually turns into a game of one-on-one or a free throw shooting contest with small scale monetary wagers.
So has little sister finally caught up with big brother on the court?
“She’s gotten close,” said Brett, 21. “I imagine it’s only a matter of time before she finally wins.”
As bright at Robertson’s star shines at Chestatee, it’s hard to imagine she was a little rough around the edges when she got going with the Lady War Eagles. Daniel said the downfall of Robertson being the tallest player on the team, was the fact that she was weak in her lower body early on.
He remedied that with team weight training in the hopes that, among other things, Robertson would stop falling and avoid a possible concussion.
Robertson’s answer to her early problems staying on both feet was investing in a pair of knee pads.
“I was just a little clumsy back then,” Robertson said. “I think lifting weights really helped a lot.”
At Chestatee, Robertson is more than just the team’s standout basketball player.
She’s got an endless sense of humor and is at the center of most of the team’s singing sessions on the bus. She’s also at the head of a team known to make videos of themselves singing in the locker room, which eventually end up on facebook, say the coaches.
Daniel even got a kick out of driving up on his house one night to find Robertson and her Chestatee teammates rolling his yard.
He says their response to seeing his headlights was the priceless part.
“I pulled up and they all hid,” Daniel said. “It was funny.”
With such a close-knit team, Robertson finds it easy to spend time with the other Lady War Eagles away from sport.
Whether Robertson is eating at El Sombrero with her friend and classmate, Rachel Kelly, or spending time hanging out at each other’s houses, they all find spending time in the same room just second nature.
As a result, Robertson and Co. have turned into one of the state’s top ranked teams.
“Peyton has worked so hard for everything she’s accomplished, but knows it wouldn’t be possible without the team,” Daniel said. “We got a great group of girls on this team and a they’re joy to coach.”