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Ball in the family
Winfrees cultivate love of basketball
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Members of the Winfree family are pictured, front row, from left, Savannah, Lisa, and Sarah-Kate. Back row, Sable, Saydee, Sampson, and Lex. - photo by Brad Durham
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Savannah Winfree, a sophomore, prepares to take a free throw for the WCHS Lady Pioneers.

If a Hollywood movie producer came to McMinnville today, he would be compelled to make a film about a large, talented basketball-crazy family. Lisa Winfree would be the star mother along with her nine kids.

Hollywood has made similar movies. Think of the singing von Trapp family in the “Sound of Music” with Julie Andrews, or a more modern movie, “Cheaper by the Dozen” with Steve Martin.

Here are the kids … count them! Saydee, 22 Brett, 21 Savannah, 16 Sable, 15 Lex, 12 Sarah-Kate, 11 Sampson, 8 Sayla-Beth, 5 Salese, 1


Six of the nine children have been playing basketball this season. Sable is starting as a freshman on the WCHS varsity basketball team. Her sister, Savannah, is also on the team. Lex and Sarah-Kate play on the boys and girls teams respectively at Eastside. Sampson and Sayla-Beth have played on youth basketball teams in Sparta.

Saydee is a former basketball and soccer player at Warren County High School, and she played basketball in college at Freed Hardeman. Brett is the only member of the Winfree Nine who has not played a sport. Both Brett and Saydee no longer live at home. Salese, the youngest, has not yet started her athletic career.

The Winfree house is a busy place in the morning. On school days, everyone has to be out the door at 7 a.m. Biscuits and cinnamon rolls are made for breakfast.

Competition in the family goes beyond sports. There is competition for food at the table. Who gets to watch what on one of two TV sets; there are no TVs in the bedrooms.

The family has Netflix and no other broadcast channels. Basketball games can be watched on YouTube, and high school players Sable and Savannah can watch game film on hudl.

Saydee said making her own highlight film on hudl is what helped her get a college basketball scholarship. Saydee is in a relationship with Kyle Cannon who coincidentally coaches Lex and Sarah-Kate’s basketball teams at Eastside.

Kyle Cannon and his dad own a farm in White County, and the Winfree kids are busy workers on the farm. These are some of the chores they do:

• Move corral panels

• Feed

• Haul hay

• Vaccinate cows

• Clean stalls

• Savannah paints – inside and outside of the barn

• Sable likes to drive the truck and get hay for the animals.

The Winfree children work on the farm every weekend and many days in the summer. They are paid for their labor. They also ride horses and wakeboard on the river next to the farm. Sampson does not like to ride horses, and he rides goats instead.

Coach Quotes

WCHS Lady Pioneer head coach Anthony Lippe said, “Sable earned a starting spot through the work she put in during conditioning and the first couple of weeks at practice. Our girls know it doesn’t matter to me who starts and that they earning playing time through their work ethic and practice time. Her competitive nature and no-quit attitude helped her earn that spot. She doesn’t back down from anyone, and that’s the type of attitude that you have to have to be a competitor. You don’t always see that type of competitiveness in a young player, but she had it from day one.”

Head coach Todd Willmore of the WCHS Lady Pioneer soccer team said, “I love both Saydee and Savannah. Saydee was an excellent midfielder for us. She was a very strong defender and controlled the middle for us. We ran a number of set plays off her throw-ins. She was so strong we treated many of her throw-ins like a corner kick. She hurt her knee the summer before her senior year but never missed a beat, playing through a lot of pain.”

“I was super excited about the year Savannah had for our team,” Willmore continued. “I knew she had potential this year, but she stepped in and played like she had been a starter for years. Her efforts this year enabled her to be named to our All-District team, an awesome accomplishment for a first-year player. Savannah is very strong and blessed with great speed. I am very excited Savannah has two more years and know she is only going to get better. It’s been my pleasure to be able to coach both of them.”

Eastside Bulldog basketball coach, Kyle Cannon said, “Lex and Sarah-Kate have improved so much since last year. They are the toughest, hardest working kids you will find. They are both good team players, very unselfish and are just worried about winning. Sarah has done a very good job as far as accepting her role on the 5-6 grade team as a leader and on the 7-8 grade team as our point guard. Lex has become dominant in the paint for us this year offensively and defensively. As a coach I am very impressed with these two, and look forward to seeing them grow and improve on and off the court.”

Southern Standard Interview Standard: What developed your interest in basketball?

Sarah-Kate: Our parents pushed us.

Savannah: I have always liked playing any sport. I’m competitive.

Saydee: We are a competitive family … for food at the table and maybe TV channels as well.

Standard: How has the dreaded COVID-19 affected school and athletics?

Lex: It’s not really a big concern to me, but it has affected me. Not had much basketball practice.

Savannah: It has had a really big effect on sports and school this year. I’m not in as good a shape as I have been in the past because I have not been able to practice as much as in the past. Most games have been canceled.

Sable: It is hard to learn when you are outside the classroom. Usually you can go to a gym and shoot around. Not been able to do that; cannot get in anywhere.

Sampson: I have not really been able to practice that much yet. The virus is really spreading and some of us need to stay at the house. My sisters pick on me. Sometimes Sable bosses me around.

Saydee: I am still in school. I am trying to get into nursing school. The labs are hard because I am a hands-on learner.

Sarah-Kate: Not seeing family and stuff is the toughest. I get tired of being with the same people all the time. Sable gets on my nerves the most. (Laughter from the other kids.) Sable bosses me a lot.

Standard: Who is the meanest in the family?

General voices:

Sable is the meanest!

Standard: What county do you like the best, Warren or White County?

Saydee went to school in Sparta until 7th grade. Savannah and Sable started school in White County and moved to McMinnville 11 years ago. Lisa Winfree is originally from McMinnville. The family now lives in the house Lisa grew up in.

Savannah: I feel like we know more people in White County but sports wise, Warren County is better for me because of soccer.

Saydee: We love Todd. He was my soccer coach. White County soccer is not as good.

Standard: Anyone think Sable would be starting as a freshman on the varsity basketball team?

Saydee: We all thought it, but we thought Savannah would be playing more too.

Standard: Is basketball your favorite sport?

Saydee: If I could go back in time, I would try to get a soccer scholarship.

Savannah: Soccer.

S a r a h - K a t e :

Volleyball. (She wants to play volleyball, but has not started playing it.)

Lex: Basketball and I want to start football next year.

Standard: Who is the best basketball player?

Savannah: We have always been a sports-oriented family. We’re competitive. I want to beat Saydee.

Saydee: They all want to beat me!

Sable: Not beat her but maybe be as good as she was in high school.

Everyone says Kyle Cannon is a sore loser. Will throw the ball away if he is losing at horse.

Sampson: At home, I sometimes beat Lex on the little goal.


When school is in session, Savannah drives herself and Sable to the high school, dropping Sayla-Beth off at Westwood Church of Christ preschool. Lex, Sarah-Kate, Saese and Sampson go with their mother Lisa to Eastside.

The family hopes that Lex will go to WCMS in the future. They think it will be better for him academically, socially, and athletically, as well help prepare him for the transition to the larger high school.

Some of the Winfree children are very good horse riders. Sable and Sarah-Kate like to barrel race. Sarah-Kate appears to be exceptionally good at barrel-racing.

Every member of this amazing family is very motivated and active. Everyone has distinct personalities. If this was a movie, there would be some Academy Award nominations and some box-office smashes. If you see this family together, you will walk away from them like you would from a movie with a happy ending, with a smile on your face.