Welcome to The Eagles Nest! This weekly blog is designed to give you, the fans, an inside look at the AU Women's Basketball program from the perspectives of the players and coaches. This week's entry is courtesy of freshman forward, TaeKenya "TK" Cleveland. We hope to see you back here next week!
Feb. 13 - Kaitlyn Lewis, sophomore guard
Feb. 10 - Elina Koskimies, sophomore guard
Jan. 30 - Asha Henley, junior guard
Jan. 23 - Emily Kinneston, junior guard
Jan. 16 - Jordan Light, senior guard
Jan. 8 - Lauren Crisler, senior forward
Dec. 19 - Michaela Nieuwenhuizen, sophomore forward
Dec. 12 - Nicole Krusen, Director of Operations
Dec. 5 - Briana DuBose, junior guard
Nov. 28 - Io Chaney, junior forward
Nov. 21 - Kaitlyn Marenyi, freshman guard
Nov. 14 - Michael Harris, junior forward
Nov. 7 - Cecily Carl, sophomore forward
Oct. 31 - Kate Bond, junior guard
Oct. 24 - Head Coach Megan Gebbia
What's up Eagle Fans!
My name is TaeKenya Cleveland. Most people call me TK because it's easier to yell when we're on the court. I'm a freshman from Aurora, Colorado. I'm majoring in journalism and plan to minor in creative writing.
As we know, the world's favorite holiday, Valentine's Day, just passed. In honor of me and several of my teammates being single and ready to mingle, I'd like to give you a few reasons why I love each and every one of them.
Let's start with Lauren. I call her six-pack. She's pretty shy when it comes to acknowledging that she's a beast in the weight room. She calls me four-pack, a couple more crunches and couple fewer cupcakes and we could be twins. We have TK enlightenment before every game. I give her expert advice, and then she decides whether or not to listen.
Next up is Kaitlyn #1. She's my roommate and is secretly really funny. Props to her for putting up with me.
On to K-Lew, also known by me as Kaitlyn #2. She isn't a fan of the nickname, but she earned it because she isn't the best partner when it comes to card games. Her killer 3 lets me rack up the assists during warm-ups.
Michael is up next. We bond over both being mistaken for boys on the first day the teacher takes attendance. My middle name is Timothy. Mike is supposedly going to teach me how to braid one of these days.
Briana is my chauffeur. She puts up with me even on my annoying days.
Payton is my bestie. We have real food Fridays, which is when we leave campus probably for the first time during the week to go try new food around D.C.
Asha is my training room buddy. She promised me she'd take me to church with her. I'm still waiting, I could really use some Jesus in my life.
Jordan is basically my second mom. She's always checking up on me.
Cecily is a teddy bear. I can always give her a hug and she never questions it, she just smiles.
Maria is always laughing, probably because she told herself a joke. We all just accept it and love her anyway.
Emily is one of the most passionate people I've ever played with. She requires the best of everyone.
Michaela is my favorite Canadian, besides Drake. One practice, I thought I was going to die and she pushed me across the finish line. Then she physically wrapped her arms around me so I wouldn't drop to my knees.
Elina is the sweetest person you'll ever meet. How could you not love this kid - let's be honest, she's adorable!
Io spelled Io, yes that's her full name. On Mondays she slays while the rest of decide which pair of grey sweatpants to wear for the day.
Kate (Bond)ed with me while rooming! She's a woman on a mission, and will conquer the world one day.
Thanks for reading!
I'd like to leave you all with this here poem.
Roses are red, violets are blue,
Basketball is our game, let's go AU.
KAITLYN LEWIS (Feb. 13, 2017)
My name is Kaitlyn Lews, and I am a sophomore from Scranton, Pennsylvania. Yes, I have seen some episodes of "The Office," but don't let them fool you - Scranton is not all that special, lol!
I plan on majoring in psychology with my main focus being sports psychology. I would really love to become a sports psychologist for a collegiate or professional sports team and have the opportunity to help athletes improve in the mental aspect of their sport(s). I mean, what would be better than having the chance to work with collegiate or professional athletes on a daily basis?!
Here at AU, some of our athletic programs have had the opportunity to interact with our very own sports psychologist, Brian Levenson. Our team has been lucky enough to be given the chance to learn from Brian and improve as a team.
Right before league play started, we met with Brian as a gruop in order to build some positive energy to help us throughout the season! Brian enlightened us on the impact that psychological factors have on athletic performance and how important positive "self talk" is to student-athletes at this level. We participated in many activities during our meeting with Brian, and were able to take away some very valuable insights. Brian began the meeting by choosing one teammate to strat a slow clap, and then he had everyone join in. In order to have a synchronized slow clap, everyone in the room must be focused and tuned into one another. This exercise helped to bring us together as a team, and reminded us that we must compete as a unit in order to succeed. That is why we decided to continue using the slow clap before we start every practice and every game.
Along with the slow clap, we have also taken an interest in trying to be the "most lit" bench in the Patriot League. We wanted to select something that we could hold ourselves accountable for during a game. When making this choice, we thought "why not try to get as many consecutive defensive stops as we can throughout the course of a game?" The entire team now keeps track of our stops, and when we are on the verge of getting our third consecutive defensive stop you will hear our bench screaming "TURKEY!" This creates a great atmosphere and pumps up both the people on the floor and also those cheering from the bench.
I hope to hear you guys yelling TURKEY with us at our next game!!
Ta ta for now!
ELINA KOSKIMIES (Feb. 10, 2017)
My name is Elina Koskimies and I'm a sophomore from Helsinki, Finland. For those of you who don't know, it's the Nordic country between Russia and Sweden! I'm going to tell a little more about that later. I am studying business, most likely majoring in finance and minoring in accounting. I still haven't really made up my mind, but that's the plan right now.
This basketball season has gone by so fast, and I can't believe there's only a month left in the regular season before the most exciting games of the year, the post season. The goals for this team are set high and we are going to do everything to get to play for as long as possible! Last week we had a game that everyone was excited about, not only because it was against Bucknell, the No. 1 team in the conference, but also because it was the Play4Kay game. This means that we play to honor women who have or have had cancer, and as they say in Mean Girls, 'On Wednesdays we wear pink!" So for the game we wore pink uniforms, socks and shoe laces symoblizing the breast cancer ribbon. Unfortunately the pinks were not all the same, and in honor of the second 50 Shades of Grey movie coming out, we called it 50 shades of pink. It is always nice to do something meaningful while doing what you love. And on top of that, we got a huge win over the No. 1 team, too!
This pink game is one of the many differences that I have encountered after coming to the U.S. However, the differences are not only in basketball, but also in normal living. First of all, because Finland is located so far north, it's very cold and dark during the winter. We also don't celebrate Thanksgiving at all, although we do have our own "Black Friday".
There are also some good parts about Finland! With only 5.5 million people, we have a lot of "extra" space and thus, some very beautiful nature. During the summer, we make up for all the darkness of the winter and the sun stays up for a long time. Actually, in northern Finland it doesn't set at all for about a month! Pretty amazing, huh? However, the thing that I miss the most (after my friends and family, of course) is a sauna! There is nothing more relaxing than going to a warm sauna after a long day. We also like to go swimming in the sea after sauna. During the winter, because it's so cold and the surface of the sea is usually frozen, you have to first make a hole in the ice. The picture below is from our backyard where my dad made this hole, called "avanto," this winter! You can call us Finns crazy, but nothing else makes your blood flow better than dipping your body into ice-cold water!
I think that's it for this time! I hope you enjoyed reading, and maybe got a new place to visit!
Kiitos ja näkemiin!
Elina Koskimies, #23
ASHA HENLEY (Jan. 30, 2017)
Hey everyone! It's Asha Henley here for this week's Eagle Nest post! I am super excited for this week, not only because I get to write this post, but also because I celebrated my 21st birthday last Wednesday (insert birthday emojis here). So, to quote my mother, I am officially "legal in all states" haha!
Anywho, allow me to formally introduce myself. As I said before, my name is Asha Henley, a.k.a. Spiderwomen (...shh don't tell anyone my secret identity!). This is my third year at American and I am studying Graphic Design and Theatre (an interesting combination, so I'm told). I am a huge fan of superhoeroes, which means seeing/buying everything that has them on it. I know this year I will probably go broke from going to the movies to see Logan, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, and Justice League (plus the 20 other movies I want to see). My room is covered with all things Marvel and DC Comics, and while I was in Vegas for my uncle's wedding, I went to one of Marvel's interactive museums and got to see movie props and become an "agent". Yes, I am a nerd, and in the words of Icona Pop, "I don't care, I love it".
Aside from my superhero obsession, I enjoy drawing, archery, watching movies, collecting items and, of course, designing. I started my own design company, All Starz Designz, in 2014 and this past summer I was finally able to create and publish my website (feel free to check it out - www.all-starz-designz.com). Also, this past summer I had the privilege of designing for my uncle's wedding and my coach's wedding. It was really satisfying to be able to see the final product in use. Besides designing for clients, I often find myself making art out of anything. Sometimes I will just spray paint a box and use it as room decor, or I even find myself in Photoshop putting myself into photos alongside celebrities.
Well, I better get back to my studies since classes have begun. Hopefully I will see you all at our next home game! Thank you for checking out my post! I hope you enjoyed it!
See ya soon!
EMILY KINNESTON (Jan. 23, 2017)
My name is Emily Kinneston (yes, the one that always has holes in her leggings). I am a junior from Shelburne, Vermont. I am the daughter of Jeff and Amy Kinneston, I have an older sister, Amanda, who graduated and played soccer at Bowdoin College, and a younger brother, Nicholas, who is going to play lacrosse at Wheaton College in the fall. I also have a beautiful, majestic golden doodle named Clancy who just celebrated his 13th birthday (featured below).
You probably think I'm crazy for calling this goofy looking dog majestic, but he has had a monumental impact on my family over the years: bringing laughter, joy and companionship. He always manages to make me happy, even when I'm feeling down. I mean, just look at that cute little face and tell me you aren't smiling. Anyway, you probably don't want to keep hearing all about my dog, so on another note...We started classes again this week!
It's always bittersweet to have classes start again. Winter break is a time when all of our focus is on basketball. While that entails extra film sessions, extra shooting workouts, and almost half of our day spent in the gym, it also means we get to spend all day with the people we love, playing the game we love. Off the court, it also gives us time to explore the city, find new restaurants, go to the movies and go shopping. With school starting again, we now have to refocus on homework, which means less free team and a little more stress. However, I do have some pretty interesting classes: physics, sociology, genetics, and biotechnology...can it really get much more interesting than that?! (only my fellow science nerds can agree) And, with the second half of Patriot League play underway, there is still plenty of time left with the team this season :)
Keep tuned, my friends, we have some BIG games coming up and you're not going to want to miss any of the excitement!
That's all for now. Peace and unity until next time!
#4 - Emily Kinneston
JORDAN LIGHT (Jan. 16, 2017)
My name is Jordan Light, and I am a senior (crazy, right?!) from Vienna, Virginia. I am excited to be graduating in the spring with a BS in Business Administration with specializations in Entrepreneurship and Marketing!
Winter break is a unique time for collegiate basketball players. While the rest of campus goes home for a month, we stay and live life like professional athletes. Because of shuttle buses not running and campus being a ghost town, our days consist of sleep, eating, watching Netflix and playing tons of basketball.
To celebrate New Year's Eve, Lauren (Crisler) and I felt it was only right to send out an Evite to the team to invite everyone over to our apartment to watch the ball drop. I remember in years past we would watch the ball drop in empty dorms all by ourselves. I was really happy everyone decided to come over to spend New Years Eve with their favorite seniors! The juniors blessed us with yummy guacamole, and Katie was kind enough to bring Krispy Kreme doughnuts (OUR FAV!!!).
I had played "Pie Face Showdown" with my family over Christmas and posted snapchats of us getting whipped cream smacked in our faces. A bunch of my teammates responded saying they wanted to play, so I made sure to bring lots of whipped cream for the night! Michaela made brackets so we could have tournaments. Once the first round started, it got very competitive and no one wanted to end up with a face full of whipped cream. I knew it was getting real when games of "rock paper scissors" were happening before a match to see who had to use their left hand! I think I had the upper hand in my matches, since I am left-handed.
In the first round, I knocked of KLew (as pictured below) to advance to the next round. IO won the first bracket while Mike won the second bracket. They were rewarded the first flavor picks of Ring Pops! While we waited for midnight to come, we played card games and watched the performances on the NYE show. When midnight came, we all had some Sparkling Cider and celebrated 2017!
I am hoping 2017 is a great year for this team. These girls have been there for me through everything, and I am so lucky I get to spend a few more months with them before I graduate! The team and I are excited for league play and to continue working towards our ultimate goal, which is another Patrito League Championship!
Thanks for reading!
LAUREN CRISLER (JAN. 8, 2017)
My name is Lauren Crisler, and I am a senior from North Wales, Pa. I am studying finance and economics and I will be graduating in the Spring!
We are finally done with finals and are ready for lots of basketball. Our team is VERY studious when it comes to academics, and it is something that we definitely pride ourselves on. I think the best part about our team being so academically oriented is that we strive to push ourselves in every aspect of our lives.
Overall, it was a great semester for the team on and off the court. I think we have reached a new level of comfort with each other this year. We are communicating more openly with each other on the court than we ever have in the past, and I think that stems from our team's core focus for this year - family, passion and excellence.
We recently played Penn State in Happy Valley. The game was very close, and we played them tight the whole time. We didn't come out on top, but I think it was a great test for our team and it gives us a lot of confidence going into conference play. We also played Michigan, another Big Ten team, at their place on Dec. 22nd. That was another tough game for us, but I do believe these opponents are preparing us well for the Patriot League.
Over the course of five days, our team traveled 900 miles to play at Penn State and Michigan. Our bus rides often involve lots of movies and, of course, snacks (thanks to our Director of Operations, Nicole!). We normally will stop along the way at a rest stop if we are on a longer trip. Otherwise, we just drive directly to our destination. Lots of us like to study and sleep on bus trips, but now that finals are over, sleeping pretty much dominates that time.
We were so lucky to eat at Maria Liddane's house in Michigan the night before our game. We will sometimes eat at a player's house, if they live near the venue where we are playing. That is always fun, because we spend a lot of time in hotels and eating at restaurants, so it's a nice change of pace to be in the comfort of someone's home while we are on the road. Once we get to the actual game day, we have a busy schedule with meals, a shootaround, and film sessions before the game.
Now that we have a few days off for the holiday season, we are ready to get back on the court and prepare for conference play. I am so excited to play for the Patriot League title again this year and to get back to the NCAA tournament. It was an amazing experience to play Iowa two years ago, and I hope this team can get back to the first round.
MICHAELA NIEUWENHUIZEN (DEC. 19, 2016)
Anyway - I made it! I'm finished! As The Script sung it, "I'm still alive but I'm barely breathing." Just kidding, I only had one exam! I'm not sure how it happened that I only had one exam, but I'm not going to question it. Instead, I'm going to focus on what's next ... SANNNTTAAA!!! I have been listening to Christmas music since October, and I have probably watched too many Hallmark Christmas movies already. Remember in grade school when kids would ask if you "like" someone, or "like like" them? Well, I "like like" Christmas. We currently have a countdown to Chrismukkah (Christmas and Hanukkah - I recommend watching the OC), only 3.5 DAYS LEFT! We added the half-day because one of my roommates, Elina Koskimies, is from Finland and they celebrate Christmas on the 24th. I am ready to sit in front of the TV and watch all of the holiday classics, while drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows and maybe have a candy cane on the side.
Last week, my roommates and I went to the Christmas market downtown, and I met my boyfriend (figure 1). He was a little shorter than I hoped, but his personality made up for it. They had live music and hot chocolate, but my favorite was the s'mores. They had an entire booth where could create your own s'more. They made their own marshmallows and you could choose from banana, mint, salted caramel, strawberry, or original flavored. Up next was the chocolate - they had dark, milk, or white. It was the fanciest s'more I've ever seen. I went for a salted caramel marshmallow with milk chocolate. As Elina would say, "classic Michaela."
I was already in the Christmas spirit, but now that I don't have to worry about homework and finals, I can focus on the holiday. I am so excited to spend time with the team during break, when all the other students go home. It's a great time to go exploring D.C. and try new places to eat, since nothing is open on campus. It also gives me time to send out my holiday card. When we took our team photos, my roommate, Kaityn, and I realized that we were wearing Christmas colors. Naturally, since I was wearing green, I acted like a tree and we took a Christmas photo (Figure 2). The picture turned out great, and I can't wait for everyone to see it! I have to go, though, because Elf is on TV :) Happy Holidays!
NICOLE KRUSEN (DEC. 12, 2016)
Happy December! I can’t believe it’s already a week into December. Before you know it, it will be 2017!!
Anyway, my name is Nicole Krusen, and I am the Director of Operations, or better known as the DOBO. Quick background… I was born and raised in the DMV. I live in Rockville, MD, went to high school in Georgetown, and I graduated from Loyola University Maryland in 2014. After college, I ventured out a bit and went overseas and played in Galway, Ireland where I earned my Masters in Marketing. Most recently I was at Virginia Tech, where I was the Video Coordinator. So this year marks my return to the DMV! It’s great to be back (minus the DC traffic), but that’s a whole other story.
For those who do not know me, I absolutely LOVE Dunkin’ Donuts! And let me specify- I’m not a huge donut person (although I will eat them every now and then)… it’s really about the beverages (coffee, lattes, teas) and the occasional breakfast sandwich. I get my Dunkin’ fix religiously every morning - it also helps that there is one walking distance from my house. It is almost a surprise to the coaches when I don’t walk into the office with my Dunkin’ in the morning! And what makes this all so surprising is I absolutely hated coffee (taste and smell) until my senior year of college! And I still can’t drink regular coffee- I have to put some sort of vanilla or flavored cream. But, I’m pretty much obsessed!
I have the DD App on my phone so I collect points for every purchase and, once you hit a certain number of points, you get a free beverage coupon. I currently have 6 free beverage coupons that don’t expire for a few months. Every so often they have different perks or coupons for discounted items or better yet…DOUBLE points!
When we went down to Daytona over Thanksgiving, I was lucky and there was a Dunkin’ across from our hotel. Our manager, Eilis, and I made Dunkin’ runs for the coaching staff a few times. Let’s just say, we got everyone’s order pretty much down pact…
- Coach Meg…Small Coffee with cream and sugar
- Coach Tiff…Latte
- Coach Nikki…Coffee with cream
- Coach Em…Hot black coffee
Until next time…and in the meantime, Drink Dunkin’ :)
BRIANA DUBOSE (DEC. 5, 2016)
When I think of playing in Daytona I think of the Dr. Seuss book “Oh, the places you’ll go!” and I thank God for all the blessings he has given me through basketball. I think the coolest thing about the tournament was the fact that a lot of my teammates (including myself) had parents at the game. My parents coming to Daytona and spending their Thanksgiving break with me is all I could ever want because they (along with my brother) are my biggest support systems. While we did not have too much free time after the first day because we had back to back games, we still made time to have fun with each other and I learned a lot about my teammates. Overall, I enjoyed Daytona a lot and learned a lot as well. I could only describe my trip the best with some behind the scenes videos and some great pictures!
Until next time Eagles fans!
-Briana DuBose #2
IO CHANEY (NOV. 28, 2016)
Welcome to my very first blog post of the season. Happy Thanksgiving!
My name is Io Chaney (and it's not short for anything, or a nickname), and I am a junior forward from Bowie, Md., majoring in Business Administration with a specialization in Marketing. One other cool fact about me is that I love to write. If you're wondering what it's like to be a student-athlete during the holidays, sit back, grab your turkeys, put in your contacts or glasses - whichever one you prefer - and prepare to hear the story you've been waiting for.
The time ticks down. November 21st: we all turn in our final papers before break. November 22nd: our last exams are completed right before morning practice. Then, it's wheels up and the whole team is headed down to sunny Daytona Beach, Fl., for our Thanksgiving tournament. The thought of warm weather in November reminds us all of when we dressed up and had a team scavenger hunt throughout Washington, D.C., in September (picture is below). Then, it reminded us of preseason conditioning, our first practice, and our 77-64 win over Youngstown State for the first game of the season. After all that reminiscing, we had finally landed in Florida. It was time...TO GET WORK DONE!
Thanks for indulging in my short narrative of our journey to Florida for Thanksgiving. Now, let me tell you about my favorite part of the holidays. This is the most precious time of the year to me, because I get to be with family, teammates and friends. I'm excited to spend my Thanksgiving Day giving it our all on the court, and then have a team feast afterward (more like a post-game meal). Another thing I'm happy about is that my parents and little brother will be traveling down to Florida with us. Most of all, I'm thankful for my wonderful teammates and coaching staff, my family, friends, and the ability to play basketball, even during the holidays.
On a sidenote, I went to the dentist before we left for Florida, and before my appointment was over had an X-ray done. As I waited for the results, I just knew I had a cavity. I could hear the doctor's heels prancing down the hall. As she turned into the room, she said, "You're all good. You have no cavities!" I sighed in relief. I could have sworn I had about five because of all the candy I had been eating to get my mind off all the assignments and papers I had due before the break. I guess I'll be eating a lot of sweet desserts during Thanksgiving!
Have a great holidy season, everyone, and thanks for tuning in!
KATIE MARENYI (NOV. 21, 2016)
My name is Kaitlyn Marenyi (known as Katie or Renny to my coaches and teammates), and I am a freshman point guard from Granger, IN, though as of this past summer I now call Wake Forest, NC, home! I am technically "undecided" on my studies, but I intend to become an elementary education major with a minor in psychology.
A couple of weeks ago we had our first game at Youngstown State, which meant a trip back to the mighty Midwest, as I have now begun calling it since leaving. As you can imagine, I was filled with nerves and excitement for my first collegiate game! My roomie for Thursday night, Kate Bond, definitely alleviated some of those nerves by casting me as the star in her movie about a girl who doesn't have enough time to finish a paper, and is rushing to get it done.
Was it just her homework assignment? Or my big break? I guess we will see. Regardless, I was glad to be able to help and had a lot of fun filming my one minute of fame!
When it came time for the game, thankfully my nerves subsided and excitement took over; it was finally time to show people what we have been working so hard at! Coming in the game for the first time, it was such a memorable moment and it is still crazy to me that I am now officially a college athlete. Our team came out with energy and played really well together, making our first game a victory! I was so happy with our performance and proud to see what my teammates, both individually and as a whole, could accomplish.
I am still getting used to the title of a college student-athlete, and all that it entails! With our first game being an away game on a Friday, it meant missing classes - something that definitely made me a little anxious, but that's what comes with the territory. What I have learned most thus far is planning, planning, planning! I have already grown up so much as a basketball player, student and person, and I can't wait to see what the rest of the season has in store!
MICHAEL HARRIS (NOV. 14, 2016)
My name is Michael Harris, and I am a junior forward on the American University women’s basketball team. I am currently studying Public Health and minoring in Biology, while also completing my prerequisites for medical school. I am most recently from Abington, PA, but I have also spent half of my life on Long Island, NY where my mother’s family lives. I am expecting a HUGE turnout for our LaSalle game next week and for our Hofstra game in December!
The day began as it usually does: Emily, Maria and I were sitting in our living room a few minutes before midnight studying with the Warriors/ Pelicans game on in the background, and once the clock hit 12 am, I was gifted a beautiful rendition of Happy Birthday in bluesy Sinatra tone by my friends. As I entered the locker room the next day, I was greeted by a chorus of ‘Happy Birthdays’ from the rest of my teammates with additional hugs and smiles. The sophomore class also surprised me with my dessert of choice, a Krispy Kreme Donut. The icing on the cake was definitely our win over Howard, but the gifts from my family continued to roll in throughout the day and over the rest of the weekend. My mother and two brothers came to have dinner and cake in our apartment, and my friends gave me my favorite gift by far, a 6ft bear I named Sir Paddington. I am so grateful for my home away from home and my second family, because they make every day a special day.
My name is Cecily Carl, and I am a sophomore forward on the AU women’s basketball team. I am from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and I am an accounting major.
We are all so excited for games to start and to finally play against other people! Our annual Blue-White scrimmage took place two weeks ago and it was so great to play with and against some of our alumni. I believe the best part, however, was playing with and against 2015 grad, Michelle Holmes. After she suffered a season-ending ACL tear in December of last year, it was awesome to see her play again and to see that she hadn’t lost any of her strength, instincts, or knowledge of the game. The Blue-White is a good test to see how our team has progressed since the start of practice and to see how the chemistry has developed amongst all of us on the floor, both of which I believe were clear throughout the scrimmage.
The second test of our progress was the scrimmage we had a week ago against Howard University. It was filled with ups and downs, just like any other preseason challenge, but the great thing about it was that our team was able to pull out a 73-68 win despite being down a couple points in the fourth quarter. Pulling out close wins is probably the one thing that we clearly struggled with all last season because so many of our losses were by six points or less. I think we also really surprised ourselves by scoring 73 points, because scoring consistently was also a challenge for the group last year. Both of these changes since the 2015-2016 season make me really eager for games to start because we are so different than we were last year. We are more experienced, more confident, and more connected on and off the court. I hope to see lots of support at our games this year because we are so much better than our record last year shows, and we work every day to prove that.
My name is Kate Bond, and I am a junior on the American University women’s basketball team. I am a shooting guard from Norman, Oklahoma, and I am studying International Studies with an emphasis on gender and environmental issues, and a regional focus on Latin America.
One thing that all of my teammates know about me is I LOVE Spanish. I listen to Spanish music, religiously watch telenovelas, and constantly have conversations in Spanish with my roommate Michael Harris. Because of my passion for Spanish, during my summers I travel abroad to improve my language skills. The summer between my freshman and sophomore year, I traveled to Puebla, Mexico, to study at Universidad de las Américas Puebla. This summer, I went to Barcelona, Spain, and stayed with a host family. It was such an adventurous summer! I read about gender issues facing our society on the Barcelona beaches, saw the unparalleled architecture of Antoni Gaudì, and saw the artistic genius of Picasso. Most memorably, I became extremely close with my host family, and will be eternally grateful for them welcoming me into their home and offering this wonderful opportunity and experience.
After my adventures in Barcelona, I spent three weeks traveling around the rest of Spain. I camped out by the Mediterranean Sea in La Costa Brava, picnicked in the parks of Madrid, experienced beautiful blends of cultures in Granada, enjoyed a tapas tour in Cordoba, and watched the mesmerizing flamenco dance in Seville.
Coming back from Spain was bittersweet. It was an unforgettable summer, but I was ready to take on the new semester and new season back at AU. When I walked into my apartment after four months away and saw my roommates Emily, Michael, and Maria, I felt like I was seeing my sisters again. As we go through preseason, we are all excited for games to finally start. I have to admit, though, with midterms in full swing, I can’t help but “find my happy place” by remembering the relaxing beaches of Barcelona.
Welcome to this year's blog, affectionately known as the "Eagles Nest". We decided for the 2016-17 season that writing a weekly blog would give you an insider's look into this year's team from practice to our very last game of the season. Each week's entry will be written by a different team member so you can get a better understanding of what our team and coaching staff experiences on a weekly basis. I am kicking off the blog, and would like to share some preseason thoughts on the team and practices so far, and tell you about the new brand for AU Women's Basketball.
I have to say coaching this team has been enjoyable, bcause they have shown tremendous growth since last season. I feel the maturity in how they approached preseason and practice has made our lives as coaches easier. Different than last season, we can actually get through everything I have on the practice plan for the day because we don't have to go backwards and re-teach things they should already know. For this, I am grateful! Their fight and energy has made our long weeks of practice seem short and bearable. Between Sean Foster (our strength coach) and myself, we have pushed them harder than any other team I have coached during my tenure here at AU. They probably think it's punishment because of last season's outcome (haha!), but in reality they are capable of rising and meeting every challenge. Believe me when I say they are not always excited about it, but nevertheless they don't complain and grind it out. This falls in line with one of our team standards for this season... NO EXCUSES/NO COMPLAINTS. We posted the team standards in our locker room (thank you Asha Henley for the graphics) to remind them of what is expected of them daily.
Now let me get a little more specific and talk to you about the team. I would like to share with you the three areas we feel are important to improve in order for this season to be successful. They include offensive rebounding, free throw attempts/percentage and 3-point FG percentage. Because we failed in those categories last year, we know that in order to win these are musts for us every game.
We also have outstanding team chemistry! I REALLY believe they genuinely care for one another the way teammates should. I feel that our on-court chemistry has been our biggest hurdle, and getting better in this area comes only with experience and attention to detail. We finally have the playing experience that we gained from last season, and now, attention to detail is this team's next step. Once they learn each other's strengths and weaknesses while playing, we will move forward and never look back.
Finally, I would like to enlighten you on a creative branding idea we decided to do this year for both our program, as well as each player. In orer for us to do this, we had to brainstorm and figure out what we stand for as individuals on and off the court, and what we want the public to think when they see AU Women's Basketball. We decided on these three words...FAMILY. PASSION. EXCELLENCE. AU will always be our family now and after graduation. The passion we have for each other, basketball and school has been showcased in our top 24 ranking academically, and our championship season in 2015. Excellence is found in how we go about our business as student-athletes and how we attack our future. This is AU and this is what WE will always be, no matter where we are in life. Welcome to the Eagles Nest and stay tuned for our journey through the 2016-17 basketball season!