By Kyle Wills
The Youngstown State University women’s basketball team held an energetic and high-effort first official practice Oct. 14 as they prepare for the upcoming season.
The team had been working out together on a limited basis since Aug. 31, and Oct. 14 was the first official day of practice across the country.
Senior guard McKenah Peters said she couldn’t wait for the team to begin playing again.
“It was super exciting to get everybody back on the court,” she said. “We’ve been waiting for so long, since we didn’t have the whole summer to workout and get together as a team. Coming together a couple weeks ago at the first team practice, it was just so nice to get everyone back on the court and get ready for the season.”
Head coach John Barnes agreed the team was ecstatic to get back out there.
“The team was really excited. With everything going on and all the question marks whether you have a season or not have a season. For us to get going and settle into practice, the team’s really enjoying it,” he said.
The transition from high school to college sports is a challenge for athletes of all types. However, Peters said she couldn’t believe how well the new members of the team handled this challenge.
“I’m super impressed with how well the freshmen are adapting to college basketball. I know when I came in as a freshman, it was super overwhelming, especially with them not being able to have a summer to go over plays and just go over what type of basketball we play here,” she said. “I’m super excited to see what they can do on the court once the season starts.”
Barnes is impressed with their work ethic and how determined they were through the first few weeks of practice, despite distractions.
“Our team is very focused and working very hard,” he said. “It’s sometimes hard with all of the distractions outside of basketball with the election, COVID, some classes being virtual, some in-person, some hybrid. I’m very proud of how focused they are once we get in the gym.”
YSU has 14 players on their roster and are bringing back experienced players. All five players who started at least 15 games last season have returned, and the Penguins also got back fifth-year senior Mary Dunn, who missed the final 26 games of the 2019-20 season with an injury. Only Dunn, Peters and Chelsea Olson have played more than one season.
The NCAA has set a start date of Nov. 25 for competitions, and YSU, along with the Horizon League, are working to complete its schedule in the future.