Bella Finnegan, a 5’10” junior guard/forward on the Mother McAuley basketball team, is an Oak Lawn resident and graduate of Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School. She’s been on the varsity squad with the Mighty Macs since her freshman season. She also played soccer at McAuley. Her brother, Jack, is a Br. Rice High School graduate and a freshman on the soccer team at the University of Wisconsin.
How have you handled the basketball season being pushed back?
“It’s been kind of hard to not be play. It’s weird having off days when I’m used to practicing or being at a game. I’m trying to keep busy, though, shooting in the driveway as it starts to get colder. There’s so much uncertainty right now. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I don’t want to lose any motivation.”
When do you think basketball will be played?
“We’re hoping we start in January. I just want to get off my butt and play. If not January, we’re hopeful for the spring because it doesn’t look good right now with the number of cases. We all want a season, though. We all want to play, so we’ll wait and be patient.”
What did you try to improve during the offseason?
“I worked on improving my defense. I noticed I was getting beat on defense sometimes, so I wanted to improve that and have quicker feet. I tried to get shots up, too, and stay consistent. Some games I’d make shots, and others I’d miss my shots. I want to be consistent and be someone my team can rely on.”
It’s your third varsity season. Feeling that pressure to step up?
“It’s not pressure, but I know what you mean. [Coach Keisha Newell], I know she looks to me to help lead the team, even if it’s just team-bonding and getting the team together. It is my third year on the varsity. I want to be a go-to player and step up. [Lewis University freshman guard Jenna Badali] left a big void. I want to help lead the team.”
Do you want to play basketball in college?
“I really want to keep playing. I’ve been playing since third and fourth grade. I love it. I’ve been talking to a couple colleges. I’d love to play Division-I, but I can’t imagine not playing basketball.”
Onto the Christmas questions, are you a big Christmas family?
“I love Christmas. Not this year, but my family usually comes in. We have a lot of family from Iowa who visit. We always do a big breakfast on Christmas morning. My dad makes a ton of eggs and bacon, and there is lots of good stuff. We always have biscuits and gravy, too. My mom has five siblings, so it’s all the aunts, uncles and cousins.”
What are your favorite Christmas movies?
“‘Elf’ and ‘Home Alone,’ the first one. When I was younger, I’d always watch ‘Elf’ with my brother and my dad. It was hilarious. ‘Home Alone’ just gets me in the Christmas spirit.”
Open presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
“Christmas morning. When Jack and I were younger, we’d wake up at 5 in the morning. My parents were always so mad. Now that we’re older, we sleep in a little. We usually start by 9.”
Favorite Christmas present you’ve ever received?
“When I was in sixth grade, my dad got me a pair of Air Jordans. They don’t fit anymore, but that was a really good present.”
Do you have a favorite Christmas carol?
“‘The 12 Days of Christmas,’ when we get together with my dad’s side of the family on Christmas Eve, we always sing it together as a family. We all pick a different number each year and sing that number. It’s always a lot of fun.”
Do you wrap your own presents?
“I wrap my own presents, but I’m lazy. I’ll put the presents in a bag with some paper.”
Eggnog, yay or nay?
“I like eggnog. I’d always go to my grandpa’s, and we’d drink eggnog.”
When does the Christmas tree go up?
“The weekend after Thanksgiving. We put it up Dec. 1 this year. We have a ton of ornaments. We actually have two trees, one with rainbow lights and one with white lights. We do an ornament exchange each year, like a white elephant grab bag, so we’ve got some crazy ornaments.”
Do you have a favorite Christmas tradition?
“My favorite part of Christmas is the music. On Christmas, when we have family visiting, we’ll drive downtown and walk around Maggie Daley Park. It’s fun to be downtown with the family and just walk around.”