After weathering early season pressure, Meister is ready to lead JM girls basketball team
“If we needed a shot, it was always Lilly who’d take it,” Laynie Meister said. “Now, it's a lot of pressure. There's so much pressure on me. But it's honestly a privilege to have that pressure.”
ROCHESTER — Laynie Meister has one of the most recognizable last names in Rochester.
The daughter of former college stars Angie and Kurt and the sister of Lincoln, a junior forward at the University of Minnesota Duluth, and Lilly, a freshman forward at Indiana University, John Marshall sophomore forward Laynie is part of a long line of talented Meister basketball players.
Is there pressure that comes with that?
Of course. And it would be a lie to say that Laynie didn’t feel it.
Lilly was tall from day one, Laynie said, immediately filling the post position on the floor for every team she was on. Laynie was shorter than her sister and played guard. It wasn’t until Laynie grew from 5-foot-4 to 5-10 before her eighth grade year that she switched to post.
Laynie hasn’t played the position long, and there are still things she’s learning, like how to take contact, something she admitted she was afraid of.
Lilly Meister left big shoes to fill at JM, passing the 2,000 career-points mark, averaging 22.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game, leading the Rockets to the section championship game, and being named the Post Bulletin Girls Basketball Player of the Year — all in her senior year.
“In the game, she was always someone I trusted. If we needed a shot, it was always Lilly who’d take it,” Laynie said. “Now, it's a lot of pressure. There's so much pressure on me. But it's honestly a privilege to have that pressure (after) learning from someone like that.”
As a freshman, Laynie was watching, subconsciously preparing for her the role she’d have to fill on the team.
While Laynie was learning from her sister’s on-court performance, she was also picking up on her leadership skills.
“Playing with Lilly, she's a leader. You listen to her,” Laynie said. “This year, it's more of taking all that and putting it in the games. It’s time for me to lead. She's my role model, so I learned a lot from her.”
It isn’t necessarily anything new to Laynie. Her scouting lessons began over a decade ago at her mom’s side at Mayo High School.
The entire Meister family loves basketball, but it wasn’t always that way for Laynie. She was “always at a basketball game” growing up, she said, between her mom’s days coaching the Mayo girls team from 2003-2012 and Lincoln and Lilly’s AAU games.
But Lilly and Lincoln fell in love with basketball earlier than Laynie did.
“She loved the sport,” Laynie said. “I never really loved it because I liked volleyball more for a good two years. Once I grew taller, I learned to get better (at basketball).”
Laynie did improve, and she joined an AAU team eventually — partly because her parents wanted her to and partly because her friend, JM sophomore guard Maddie Gorden, played on the same team.
The improvements have continued into her second varsity season, turning a corner statistics-wise over the last week, despite playing on a young, struggling team.
“In the beginning of the season, I felt all the pressure. It’s a whole new team, new coach, and I felt a lot of pressure,” Laynie said. “(But) I gained a lot more confidence.
“Before, I’d miss a shot and I’d be like, ‘I’m not shooting the rest of the game.’ Now I try to just forget about it and just play and work hard.”
It’s a true growth year for the Rockets, learning a new offense under first-year coach Maxx Waring. With only three seniors, Laynie does have a leadership role on the team, encouraging teammates to come to practices and early morning open gyms.
“If we lose, we shouldn’t be laughing about it." Laynie said. "We want to get better. We want to win, but we’re young. We’re not going to win every game, but we have to put in our best effort.”