Another women’s basketball season has begun, and busy they have been! The women’s team won Tuesday against Valparaiso University, and their next game will be in Macomb at Western Hall Saturday at 4:30 p.m. The head coach of the women’s basketball team, J.D. Gravina, told me what his second season as head coach has been like thus far.
Gravina explained that there are half new players and half returning players on the team this season. Since this is his second season as head coach, he explained that it’s been a big adjustment. “It’s kind of like we’re starting back over,” he began. “But overall, having those returners who know what to expect and what’s expected of them is helpful. Last year everyone was new,” Gravina said.
This season is larger than most with sixteen players. There are half returning players and half new players. With such a large number of new players this season, communication, camaraderie, and focus are critical aspects towards making the team successful. “Communication has been a huge thing.” Gravina began. “The fact that we get along really well [is our strongest asset]. You spend so much time together. You have sixteen girls that probably were the best players in their high school; now you throw them all into one group and they compete. Our group does a good job. When you truly care for your teammate, then it’s easy to be enthusiastic for the game,” he said.
Gravina continued explaining that the camaraderie between the players is crucial because having good interpersonal skills is not only important on the court, it’s also very important off the court. “Every job you have, relationship, and every group you’re a part of, there’s going to be people you like and don’t like. So you need to try to focus on the things you enjoy about your team…classes…your families, your social life…and not focus on things that will always be negative. That’s an important lesson for them,” he said. “Learning to realize that everything is relative and dealing with adversities is important.”
Not only has the women’s basketball team been working together on the court, but they also get involved in the community. Gravina said that the team has increased their community service efforts. “Our girls have already gone to the nursing home and played bingo, they’ve painted nails for some of the older ladies at the nursing home, they’ve worked with the Humane Society… we’re going to do a Big Pink Night for breast cancer. We’ve done beautification projects around campus too,” he said. “It helps the community and it really helps our players. The best part is the players really enjoy it.”
On the court, Gravina tries to create a very competitive atmosphere. He explained that having intense practice is very important. “We really focus on intensity,” he said. “And obviously we really focus on getting in shape and spend time running our offense. We’re playing three freshman during the games, and the competitiveness really helps.”
As for the seniors who will graduate in May, Gravina asked them what part they want to play towards the future of the team. “I ask the seniors if they want to go out and be a small step in the process, or do they want to go out and really take this program to the next level. It doesn’t mean they go to a Championship, but do they want to continue to grow? I think that has sunk in with them,” he said.
With seven games under their belt, the WIU women’s basketball team is 2-4 with a great season ahead of them. can catch the women play here in Macomb at Western Hall this Saturday night. At 4:30 p.m., the team will battle William Woods University. If you want to visit the women’s basketball athletics page, visit http://www.goleathernecks.com/SportSelect.dbml?&DB_OEM_ID=12000&SPID=4948&SPSID=49951. Come support our Fighting Leathernecks! Let’s go, ‘Necks!