Photo Credit: Hai Duong
Though the group has not had much time together, the San Diego Mesa Women’s Basketball team have bright hopes for the future of their program, and are preparing in every way they can due to the cancellation of their regular season because of COVID-19 protocols.
Women’s Basketball Head Coach Lindsay Samaniego stated, “Our team is very new. We started the year with nine incoming freshmen and three returning sophomores. Unfortunately we have not had a chance to play together yet, since we haven’t been on campus this school year.” Even though they haven’t been together physically, virtual interaction has been beneficial . “We communicate often. Mostly through Zoom. We’ve just been encouraging them [the players] to stay positive and make the most of our situation. We also want to stay ready in the event we are able to get back onto the court. Most importantly, we always stress for them to make good decisions and be safe,” said Samaniego.
The girls have found their own strides, whether it’s on or off the court. “I was definitely bummed about our season getting canceled this year. I was really looking forward to meeting my teammates and competing. On the flip side, I have a year to grind and come back ready for next season,” noted Freshman guard Emma Fitzgerald. She added, “ Since I got the news that we would no longer have a basketball season, I decided that I wanted to compete and run track for Mesa. I’m now working out with basketball weekly and training for track the rest of the week.”
As a freshman, Fitzgerald is new to the program, and has had help along the way. “The older players have taught me so much and been a huge part of my journey. We are all going through this together for the first time, and I have definitely seen positivity, encouragement, and leadership from all our players across the board,” she noted.
The team still needs to up their bonding as well as chemistry, considering more than half the team is made up of freshmen. Freshman guard Isabella Ryan said, “There will be some challenges we will need to overcome once we get on the court together, like meshing our gameplay and being on the same page. Although we have worked with each other for a little while, it will be a totally new feel once we actually get on the court. Our coaches have been super sweet and encouraging during this tough time. They always make sure to check in on us individually, and have praised our improvements to our game during quarantine.”
One of the few veterans on the team echoed Ryan’s comments. Sophomore forward Teagan Williamson mentioned, “I’m really grateful for our coaches. They have so much support for their players and also have such a positive mindset for these girls. They help us achieve our personal goals on and off the court and help us become stronger women, and better basketball players.” Williamson added, “They’re also really positive and always say that if we put in the work now over zoom we will be ready for the season ahead.”
Unfortunately, recruiting has taken a hit due to the pandemic. “A large part of recruiting is watching high school games live, having interactions with prospects and their families, and giving them an on campus experience. We haven’t been able to do any face to face recruiting during this pandemic or been able to host them on campus,” said Samaniego. On the bright side, she remarked, “We are looking forward to being together on the court. Our freshmen – all freshmen for that matter – have yet to experience college on campus or participate in a collegiate practice or game. I’m excited for them to have that experience.”