UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- For basketball fans across the nation in any respect ranges, success is commonly contingent on having gamers that may function an extension of their teaching and management on the ground always.
“It is vital to what we do to have that QB or goalie on the courtroom which might be directing huddles, commanding their crew and pushing our tradition,” Penn State head coach Carolyn Kieger stated. But in addition understanding what Penn State girls’s basketball is making an attempt to perform and the place we’re making an attempt to go.”
That is particularly related for Kieger and her Woman Lions this 12 months, provided that over 80% of the crew, together with eight freshmen, didn’t step onto the courtroom for Penn State final season.
Seeking to enhance of the squad’s 2019-2020 marketing campaign, Kieger’s younger crew truly contains 5 upperclassmen, every coming to Penn State after beginning their faculty careers at different colleges. Although every of those transfers possess worthwhile expertise, they should work simply as arduous because the freshmen to get acclimated with a brand new teaching workers in a 12 months distinguished by uncertainty.
Thus, the majority of the accountability to step up as perpetual leaders has fallen on sophomores Anna Camden, Makenna Marisa and Shay Hagans, the one returning members who noticed dwell motion whereas sporting the Blue and White final season.
“I believe us three being returners who performed final 12 months, we now have an understanding of how issues are alleged to work and what Penn State’s commonplace is,” Camden stated. “So, it is undoubtedly our accountability to assist the newbies, whether or not they’re freshmen, grad transfers or whoever it is likely to be.”
All through her first offseason on the collegiate degree, Camden spent a lot of her time choosing Kieger’s mind about responding to the adversity that they had confronted collectively via steadily establishing a successful tradition.
“She’s a go-to for me in the case of protecting this younger group collectively as a result of she’s been so keen to assist and so invested into placing Penn State above her personal wants, needs and needs,” Kieger stated. “When you’ve gotten that, you’ve gotten a particular chief.”
The sense of accountability that Camden feels to drive such constructive change always lingers over her roommate as nicely, Makenna Marisa, who has used her personal private experiences and admirable work ethic as a useful blueprint for the newcomers.
“I am not excellent, I make errors on the courtroom too, and I am nonetheless always studying,” Marisa stated. “However with that have I’ve from final 12 months, I really feel that It is my accountability to assist the freshmen study Kieger’s fashion of play and simply her techniques offensively and defensively.”
“She’s going to win each dash and offer you her all each single day,” Kieger stated. “She’s all the time led by instance and is studying tips on how to use her voice and maintain individuals accountable to the identical commonplace the place she’s working every single day.”
Very similar to the palpable development of Marisa, Kieger has additionally witnessed her younger level guard Shay Hagans steadily blossom into a possible flooring common.
“Shay’s confidence, physique language and the way she carries herself have come such a drastic approach.” Kieger stated. “In a single 12 months, she’s most likely remodeled greater than anybody.”
“Final 12 months, I was shy and type of let others stroll over me typically,” Hagans stated. “However this 12 months, I am actually stepping up and utilizing my voice in a constructive approach to assist lead this crew.”
In Hagan’s case, her evolution as a pacesetter is crucial for the crew’s improvement, given that each one eight incoming freshmen are guards who will profit from her ongoing steering.
“I do not assume she thought she was going to be in that management place as a sophomore, however Shay needs it and is welcoming it,” Kieger stated. “She’s pushing herself via fatigue and mentoring that younger group that I do not assume she knew she was prepared for.”
Kieger, a 2019 Naismith Girls’s Coach of the Yr Award semifinalist, defines management in her younger program by pushing a constructive tradition and embracing “Lion PRIDE”: Ardour, Respect, Funding, Self-discipline and Excellence.
However the sophomores have not simply reiterated what their well-spoken coach has preached, both. Slightly, Camden, Marisa and Hagans have all taken motion by asserting themselves and making use of this two-step course of to their very own lives, in whichever methods they see tangible.
For Camden, a lot of the work she has accomplished so far to provoke a younger group has truly taken place off the courtroom, as she stresses the significance of making sturdy relationships that may carry over onto the courtroom.”
“With such a brand new crew, I have been simply doing my greatest to get to know everybody, so simply taking individuals out to lunch, having one-on-one conversations and actually studying about one another in order that I can perceive them,” she stated. “I believe it begins off the courtroom.”
Although Marisa is enhancing as a pacesetter by letting her voice be heard, she additionally acknowledges that on a regular basis studying processes are usually not mutually unique.
“As a pacesetter, I am additionally simply making an attempt to study increasingly more every single day,” Marisa stated. “I nonetheless study from the freshmen, I study from (transfers) Kelly [Jekot], [Jonashia} Cash, and what they learned at their previous schools.”
As Hagans continues to transcend into a role beyond what she may have expected of her sophomore year, she wants to hold others responsible for the work they’re putting in day-in and day-out.
I’m more mature and I think I’ve stepped up and used my voice more to hold others accountable,” Hagans said. “I know what to expect, I know what Kieger wants, and can help her lead the team as a sophomore.”
Perhaps what has allowed three sophomores to transition so seamlessly into such important roles has been the close bond that they share, the foundation being the tough times they faced together as first-year players.
“I think everything that we went through last year just kind of solidified a bond and unity between three of us, especially since we were the only three who played and came back,” Camden said. “It was like a decision that we were going to take this program where it needs to be and we’re just kind of bonded through that indefinitely.”
“We’re not afraid to hold each other accountable, which is just what comes with being close. That’s kind of my hope with the team this year” Marisa said. “That we get close enough to hold each other accountable and tell each other the truth.”
Through sharing an apartment in a chaotic year that can also serve as the turning point for their program, Hagans points to the idea that her, Camden Marisa have not just become leaders, but best friends.
“We’re very dysfunctional with each other but it’s really funny,” Hagans said. “We’re just able to be ourselves with each other and whenever any of us need anything we’ve got each other’s backs.”
“They are my best friends, and when I say sisters I fully mean it,” Marisa said. “We’re three very very different people but are connected endlessly because of situations we were put in together.”
“They got so many valuable minutes as freshmen that I think are going to pay dividends this year, Kieger said. “I really believe they will help us transform this program from coach-led to player-led.”