Western women’s basketball on the rise

A group of basketball players celebrate after a game

Western women’s basketball on the rise

Story by Katie Lyons
Western Colorado University Athletics Department
Photo by Feb 18, 2020
 

The 2019-2020 season of the Western Colorado University women’s basketball team has been one for the books. Despite a slow start to their season, the women ramped up their game and recorded six straight wins from Nov. 29 to Dec. 14, and after taking a few games mid-season to refocus their efforts, recorded another six consecutive wins from Jan. 4-24. As it stands the team currently holds 17 wins and six losses, a record season, and has successfully entered into the post-season for the second year in a row.

In addition to breaking the record of RMAC wins in a season set by the 2006-2007 team, this is the first time the women’s team has made back-to-back post-season entries since 1990.

Head coach Lora Westling stated that although the team lost some key senior leadership on the team, the camaraderie and commitment to growth the women have shown this season has propelled them to a point where they are working together like a well-oiled machine toward their final goals.

“Our women empower each other, work together and are learning how to hold themselves and others consistently accountable to a higher standard. We tell recruits all the time that what really makes our program and university great are the quality of people that drive it forward,” she said.

Some key players on the team who have been especially influential in their performance this season have been Hannah Cooper, Katie Dalton, Gabie Doud and Samantha Coleman. These players have consistently led the team in the points scored, field goals and rebound categories, in addition to ranking near the top of the team roster for three-point shots, free throws and blocks.

This season hasn’t been all about scoring high and defeating Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) opponents, however. The women have also achieved other notable breakthroughs and have taken advantage of big opportunities that have helped promote both individual and team development and success.

“This season, we were able to defeat a Division I opponent, Weber State; travel to Canada to compete and experience a different culture; unveil a state-of-the-art film room thanks to an extremely generous donor; and most importantly continue to improve every day with grit and enthusiasm,” Westling said.

The women are currently ranked third in the RMAC and are just three games away from the championship tournament. Westling shared that earning an RMAC championship title is a major goal, but ensuring athletes feel empowered and supported by their coaches and teammates holds importance as well.

“Our ultimate goal is to build a championship program that fosters success in all areas. It is important to us that are women feel supported as competitors as well as learn to invest and commit to their development as a person and teammate. Everyone in our program is working hard to bring that first RMAC Women’s Basketball Championship to Western and become a fixture in the NCAA national tournament …. We want to represent Western to the best of our ability and make contributions to the community that we can be proud of,” she said.

As the team looks to move forward and prepare for the end of their season, the combined efforts of athletes and coaches alike will contribute to the success the team hopes to achieve. Westling stated that as with any team, creating a dynamic oriented toward success requires dedicated effort from all involved to improve both individually and together on a daily basis.

“We knew coming into this season that we had a great core of returning players as well as some talented newcomers that could make an impact right away. The biggest challenge of any season is to take the potential of a team and inject the work, relationships and expectation necessary to cultivate actual results. That process is not easy, but our student-athletes have done a great job of buying-in and most importantly trying to improve every day. It has been a special year and we still have a lot to accomplish,” she said.