Club women's basketball taking off in second season
The Lakers will play at the Palace of Auburn Hills before the Detroit Pistons game Feb. 10
GVL / Courtesy - Club sports GVSU women's club basketball goes undeafeated at their first home hosted tournament on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017.
Every year, new clubs spring up from the minds of students looking to fill a niche role in the Grand Valley State community. Students can find clubs for almost anything, but not all of those clubs have the potential to become something greater.
The women’s basketball club had that potential and ran with it.
Last year, Sophia Hall, now a sophomore, had the idea of creating a club where women on campus could get together and play basketball together since there was no other true time or place where they could do that, especially since the men who play at the recreation center do not play well with girls.
Alas, the club was created for that purpose and its inception went well.
This year, the same club that was founded a few semesters ago has evolved into GVSU's very own full-fledged women’s club basketball team.
The team held tryouts and even hired a head coach to call the shots and run practices. They eventually got around to hosting their own round-robin style tournament in Allendale.
In their first taste of competitive action, the Lakers won all three of their tournament games against established programs—Loyola University (Chicago), Oakland and Central Michigan.
“It was so nice. We’re so new that we haven’t seen what other teams play like or how they are. We have no idea about the playing level that’s out there because this is our first exposure to teams in our area,” Hall said. “Coming out in our first year and beating the other teams we could find was great. We’ve also played Ferris and Northwestern (in scrimmages) and we’ve beaten them too. It’s really cool to be such a new team and be validated like that.”
Made up of 12 girls both with college basketball experience and without, the team as a whole is feeling optimistic about the slate of games that lay ahead in their first season of competitive play.
“Based on the teams that we’ve faced the past couple weeks we feel like we’re pretty evenly matched,” said Tori Henning, starter and Albion College transfer. “Me and, I believe, two other girls played college basketball and transferred here, so this club was a great opportunity to continue playing basketball at a competitive level. I think we offer good matchups.”
Along with Henning, senior forward Erika Ketchum and sophomore guard Sarah Van Houte, who is also the club’s vice president, are expected to be the on-court leaders for the team and can be expected to put on a show for fans.
“Yeah, I think we’re super optimistic. We’re excited. It’s looking really good,” Van Houte said of the expected team success. “We’ve been playing at a competitive level with teams who have been at a competitive level for a lot of years so it feels good.”
In fact, there is even buzz among the team that they can make a run at the regional tournament as soon as this year and even contend for the women’s club national championship.
“We’ll be traveling this year to all kinds of tournaments and we hope to win the regional tournament and if we do that we can go to the national championship game,” Henning said.
Just because the team has moved on to bigger things does not mean they have lost sight of their original mission, though.
“We have practice players too, like I said we just wanted girls to just be able to play the game but that don’t feel like they can play at the rec,” Hall said. “You don’t have to be on the team, if you want to come play with us at practices or scrimmages you can come play with us, we’re inclusive. Girls are able to come do that and we have girls that do that right now.”
Interested girls are invited to attend practices, which are held on Tuesdays and Sundays at 9 p.m. at the Recreation Center.
The Lakers will continue their season Friday, Feb. 10 when they take on the Oakland Golden Grizzlies at the Palace of Auburn Hills, and tickets purchased for that game will also get fans into the Detroit Pistons versus the San Antonio Spurs game that same night at 7:30 p.m.