by Grace Hatton, Reverb Editor
For the first time in over ten years the Wilson Women’s Basketball team is completing a winning season. This year also marks the first year that Warren Wilson has successfully recruited for the women’s basketball team, and that successful recruitment of players has played a major role in the team’s historic season.
“The difference this year from other years is that we are winning games,” said Head Coach Rob Shook. “I have always tried to recruit players to come to WWC. This is the first year that women’s basketball recruits were willing to come here to give this program and Warren Wilson a chance. Every year players from my previous teams have asked about recruits. They have wanted players to come in that would have an immediate impact on the basketball floor.”
The Women’s Basketball team, or the Lady Owls as they are affectionately known on campus, play in Division Two of the USCAA Basketball League. After an impressive season of more wins than losses the Lady Owls are currently ranked third out of 35 other colleges in the power rankings of the USCAA and eighth in the coaches’ poll.
This winning season places the Lady Owls in the running to play in the USCAA national championships. The team will know if they have qualified for the championship within a few days.
“We have some upperclassmen girls with a lot of playing experience and a nice group of young talent as well,” Shook said. “This team is more balanced offensively and defensively than we have been in the past. We have put a lot of focus on changing the women’s basketball program here for many years. When I first got here the program had two girls on the team. We have steadily grown the roster size, added games to the schedule and have had some success with recruiting which has resulted in us starting to win. Now we expect to win games.”
The current team consists of three returning players: Leya Alderfer, Sara Blandin and Renee Scherer and new players including Dani Henderson, Jacina Hall, Suzie Ashford, Lilvia Bradbury, Brogan O’Brien, Sasha Miller and Erica Olive.
Henderson, Hall, Ashford, and Bradbury were all recruited by the Women’s team while O’Brien, Miller and Olive were introduced to Shook via the admissions office.
The recruitment process involves Shook making contact with players and then those players filling out the recruitment questions on the Owls website.
“By them filling out this questionnaire it lets me know that they have a genuine interest in WWC and women’s basketball,” said Shook.
That questionnaire is then filed with admissions. Shook maintains contact with prospective recruits. The prospective recruits send Shook their highlights reel and high school season stats. Shook in return gives them updates on the Wilson season. Potential recruits visit campus and are paired with a current player. After this Shook encourages them to apply to the college and once the recruit is accepted they complete any necessary financial aid paperwork.
“Just like any student on campus if they love the school and feel like this is the place for them we are hopeful they will choose to commit to coming to Warren Wilson,” said Shook.
The veteran players on the women’s team have noticed a difference in the team this year thanks to the new recruits.
“I have been lucky to see the athletic program grow into a very respectfully program the past few years,” said senior Sara Blandin. “This year we have been blessed with new talent—great new talent. The new additions to our team are not only dedicated to the game, their team, their talent, but also to the growth of our athletics program at Warren Wilson.”
The veteran players are also excited to be on a team that is enjoying a winning season. “I cannot express how amazing it has been to be on a team that wins games,” said sophomore Renee Scherer “I’m grateful for every one of the new players this year for coming here with an open mind and the intention to win. Last year was a different story and honestly I’m glad I got to experience it because I wouldn’t be as appreciative about this year.”
It’s clear these new recruits have injected a surge of energy, prowess and success into the Women’s basketball team that has not been emulated in many years. This success on the court is something many of the players are still adjusting to. “Sometimes I can’t wrap my head around the fact that we’ve won more games than we’ve lost. It’s a great feeling and I think we’ve come a long way since September with improvements,” said Scherer.
If the Lady Owls qualify for the national championships it will be the first time in twelve years that the Wilson Women’s Basketball Team has done so. But either way, this year’s team has done a remarkable job on the court and shown that with a combination of hard-working veteran players and a batch of eager new recruits the Lady Owls can break the long Wilson tradition of losing and start a new legacy of dominating on the court.