Women’s Basketball Looking for Male Practice Players

In an attempt to improve the team’s strength, basketball coaches for the YSU women’s basketball team are looking for male students to attend practices. Photo by Dustin Livesay/The Jambar.

The Youngstown State University women’s basketball team is seeking male practice players for its upcoming 2014-2015 season.

A popular tactic used throughout women’s college basketball, the Penguins are looking for full-time YSU students with past playing experience that can help improve the team.

“We need some volunteers that can come in and practice against our women’s team to get them better,” John Nicolais, YSU women’s assistant coach, said. “Preferably guys that played basketball in high school that can challenge our players.

“The reason we do this is because the males are typically a little bigger, faster and stronger, and that helps get us ready for the season.”

Those interested can either visit the YSU women’s basketball office on the second floor in the Beeghly Center or contact Nicolais through email at jnicolais@ysu.edu, or by dialing his cell phone number: 330-314-2514.

“The sooner, the better,” Nicolais said.

The Penguins women’s basketball team starts mandatory practices on Oct. 6. Before this, participants would have to fill out paperwork and pass a physical, which would be supplied for free through the team.

While freshman are eligible to sign up, they would have to complete a registering process through the NCAA Eligibility Clearinghouse that requires a $75 fee. For sophomores and above, this process is not required.

“We’ve gotten guys to come in and do it in the past just because they love the game and like to compete,” Nicolais said. “Then, obviously, there’s the benefit of staying in shape and being around the game.”

Nicolais added that there’s another perk to joining the practice squad.

“For the guys that are there on a regular basis, we have the option to provide them with gear like T-shirts, shorts, tank tops — that kind of stuff — for them to keep and have,” he said.

Former YSU student Eduardo Mateo, who graduated this past spring, was a member of the practice team for the 2011-2012 women’s basketball season. He spoke highly of the experience.

“We would definitely help bring out their abilities and it was just fun practicing with them and playing good basketball,” Mateo said. “And it’s nice when you see them win because you feel like you may have helped them do that.”

Mateo participated under the guidance of former YSU women’s head coach Bob Boldon’s staff. While current Penguins head coach John Barnes and his staff are just in their second year at YSU, they also implemented male practice players in their debut season last year.

“It’s something that’s pretty popular in the women’s basketball side,” Nicolais said. “If you get some guys that can play and are athletic, it serves as good competition for our players to challenge themselves and get better. That’s what we’re looking for.”