ULV women’s squad welcomes 9 new faces this season

by Agke Grow
Staff Writer

The sounds of hard work can be heard on weeknights in the Supertents. Yells of encouragement from teammate to teammate, the basketball bouncing off the hardwood, and 13 pairs of shoes stomping down as the players change direction during sprints.

For the University of La Verne women’s basketball team preparing for its upcoming season, hard is the only way to go.

Coming off a sub-par season last year, there are reasons to believe that the team has little going for it. The Leopards went 3-9 in conference games last year, and finished sixth in the SCIAC, losing by an average of eight points a game. Jennifer Spring, the only La Verne player to earn All-SCIAC honors last season, has graduated. But as far as the players are concerned, this is a whole new year.

“We’re up and coming,” said junior guard Amy Perkins. “We have a good work ethic and an enthusiastic coaching staff.”

The coaching staff is without head coach Julie Kline, who is on maternity leave. She is expected to return in mid-December. Until then Katie Miner, last year’s assistant coach, is assuming the interim head coaching role, while graduate assistant Richard Reed will serve as assistant coach.

“We’re young,” said Miner, “but by conference time we should be very competitive.”

Miner’s four returners – Michelle Geiger, a senior guard/forward; Kelli Obrero, a sophomore guard; senior guard Michelle Ballard; and Perkins – will look to provide valuable leadership to the squad of nine newcomers.

“We’re young, but they have a lot of talent,” said Perkins.

This year’s roster is heavy in freshmen, with as many first year players this season as total players last year. This helps the team hold more competitive practices and helps to keep players healthy.

“Our practices are better. Everyone is working hard and fighting for positions,” said Geiger.

The team is looking to make up for its inexperience with hard work, size, tough defense and rebounding.

Freshmen A.J. Tsapanos, Jamila Anderson, Audrey Butcher and Espie Flores are all 5’10” or taller.

Obrero said, “We’re young, but we work hard. We have height, and emphasize defense first and foremost.”

“We have a lot of big girls,” said Geiger. “We are going to be very competitive and aggressive. Defense is what we emphasize.”

The team flew to Belmont, Calif., yesterday to play two preseason matches, beginning with a match against the College of Notre Dame.

If all goes according to plan, the women will be in the hunt for the SCIAC title at the end of the season.

“Cal Lutheran and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps will be up there, but we can be up there with them,” said Miner.

“We can win the SCIAC,” said Geiger. “We just have to take the chance.”

Said Obrero, “We’re going to work hard, do the best we can, and win some games.”

Agke Grow, Sports Editor
Agke Grow

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