PLAIN CITY — Shelbee Molen has always been obsessed with shooting a basketball.
At just 5 years old, she would not let her family leave the recreation center until she could hit a basket on a 10-foot hoop.
At the end of her seventh-grade basketball season, after she walked away with the league championship, she went home wanting to do more.
"I told my mom, 'I want to be good. I want to be able to be the best that I can be,'" Molen said. "She said, 'OK, but it's going to take work.'"
So Molen went to work, shooting every day but Sunday for the next five years. She shot through holiday breaks, on summer vacations, and late at night. She shot through two second-place junior high finishes and a heartbreaking semifinal loss as a high school sophomore.
She also shot herself into Fremont girls basketball history, leading her team as a junior to its first-ever state championship this year and a Utah team's first-ever trip to the Dick's Sporting Goods High School National Tournament.
And now, she has shot herself into being named the Deseret News Ms. Basketball for the 2013-14 season.
“I have never had a player who does the things she does,” Fremont coach Lisa Dalebout said. “It has been a lifelong commitment, and now it comes naturally out on the court.”
This season, the shooting guard averaged 16.6 points and a 5A-best 2.9 3-pointers per game for Fremont. She hit a game-winning buzzer-beating 3-pointer in her team’s victory over Layton, which ultimately clinched a piece of the Region 1 championship. She scored 26 points in the Silver Wolves’ win over Brighton in the state semifinals, their only tournament win by fewer than 10 points. And she, like her coach, attributed both her shooting routine and her discipline to a sense of calm out on the court.
“I know that I have the ability to take and make those shots,” Molen said. “I’ve definitely learned to have confidence in myself and to play a little more free. I feel like I don't have to force it anymore. It just kind of comes.”
With all of her success on the court, Molen has made it a priority to step back and pay it forward. She visits her junior high team, which her mom, Pam, coaches, to offer words of wisdom, and she works as a one-on-one mentor, coaching basketball fundamentals to kids in the community.
“I have a couple kids right now on my team who fought over who got to wear Shelbee's number,” Pam Molen said. “They love her and she's a good role model for them. They all see that she's worked hard. I have a lot of kids that want to follow Shelbee, so they put the extra hours in too.”
For Molen, it is an opportunity to hold a job while still doing what she loves.
“I think it's rewarding to see what I can do to help other people, and I learn too,” she said. “It's fulfilling to see them improve.”
For Dalebout, Molen’s work in the community is assurance that Fremont girls basketball will continue on its current upward trajectory.
“She has played a major role in really elevating our program,” Dalebout said. “Along with our seniors, they have taken this program to an entirely different level.”
After high school, Molen will continue her basketball career at BYU, playing for coach Jeff Judkins and possibly studying education, a path that could lead her back into coaching. Before that happens, however, she has one final season to make history at Fremont.
“I have to remind myself I get her for one more year,” Dalebout said. “I can’t hardly believe it’s real.”
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.