The Truman State University’s women’s basketball team heads into the season with half of the team’s members entirely new to the team. With eight returners and eight new members, the players had to adapt to this new dynamic before going into the new season. However, this change has not strained their ability as a team. Returners have been able to step up as leaders both on and off the court to the new members. The team’s first home game will be Nov. 17 in Pershing Arena against Winona State University.
“I am excited [for the season],” senior captain Claire Rake said. “We have a new team, but I am looking forward to seeing how the pieces piece together and to see how we can play. I think the upperclassmen have had to grow a lot just because we have six freshmen, and then we also have two transfers, so it’s been a lot of us trying to teach from the top to the bottom.”
According to sophomore player Kaitlyn Patke, something significant about this team is the close bonds they share with one another. Rake comments that even off the court, the players remain close and they often eat with one another, hang out and do homework together.
“We’re close because we chose to be best friends,” Patke said. “We are literally sisters. I think our chemistry off the court helps us out on the court tremendously.”
Rake said she knows, to be a Truman Women’s Basketball player means something and is a responsibility that is not taken lightly by the members of this team. Rake hopes to encourage her teammates to maintain this environment.
“I hope I can be the best leader possible,” Rake said. “I hope I can show the freshman and the younger people what it takes to lead and what it takes to be a Truman State Women’s basketball player. We hold our culture very high and have high standards, so I hope to just replicate that well so they can follow.”
Off the court, the players also have to manage regular student responsibilities. Rake said that being a student athlete requires one to be proactive about assignments. However, school is the number one priority of the players and the coaches. Patke said that practices, weightlifting sessions and conditioning are catered around the athletes’ course schedule to ensure that no classes are being missed for basketball. Even when traveling, the team finds a way to complete homework — whether that be on the bus or in hotel lobbies.
The team hopes to have a large number of wins this year for their fans.
“My biggest motivation is knowing I am playing for something bigger than myself,” Patke said. “I am not just playing for just me. I am playing for the other teammates on the court, all my other teammates in general, my coaches, my fans and my supporters.That’s why I am here in the first place.”