Tradition, Work Ethic Will Propel Storm

by Erin Guzman

Women’s basketball, a tradition full of fire, intends to keep burning this year in hopes of going even further than before.

In past seasons, women’s basketball has made successful runs in the regular season play and have advanced into the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA national tournament.

“Last year we were one game away from the Sweet 16,” Head Women’s Basketball Coach Brian Niemuth said. “We want to get back there again.”

Niemuth is in his 24th season of coaching at Simpson, and he and senior guard Amy Hamilton are ready to take things to the next level. The message: Goals have been set high.

“We lost some really good players from last (year), but we also have many good players returning,” Hamilton said. “Our team has set high goals for this season. We hope to win out the IIAC conference as well as advance in the NCAA tournament farther than our team has ever been before.”

The Storm has four returning starters and nine returning letter winners who have the experience to help keep up the Storm’s winning tradition, but not without a little hard work.

The women have already started their official practice, and one of the main focuses of training is getting the newcomers adapted to the Storm’s swift system of play.

“Right now we’re working on a lot of the basics,” Niemuth said. “Our offensive play is very fast. It’s a lot different than what some of our newer players might be used to, so it’s important that we lay the ground work early.”

Laying the groundwork early won’t be the case with all players on the team though.

“I’ve got a couple more weeks of down time before I can practice again (because of surgery),” Senior Darrina Bledsoe said. “I’m still driven and this isn’t something that’s going to hold me back. It’s going to be tough because I’ll be out of shape, but that doesn’t change our team chemistry and what we hope to accomplish.”

Team chemistry is something that the Storm believes sets them above other squads.

“This year we have five seniors on the team, and I think each of us brings a different aspect of leadership that is important for our team,” Hamilton said.

Niemuth also agrees that the team has bonded well.

“The team gets along very well,” Niemuth said. “I’m absolutely thrilled with how it’s shaped up so far.”

Even though the team has bonded early, it’s still crucial that they maintain focus on the high goals that have been set already.

“We all need to be focused and determined,” Bledsoe noted. “We need to get over the little obstacles early, like in scrimmages and work up to achieving our bigger goals.”

The Storm’s track record should leave fans feeling good about the upcoming season.

“The girls are self motivated,” Niemuth said. “Many of them have been through it, so they know what to expect and are hungry for victory. As a coach I try to motivate each athlete the best I can because every person is different. But the players challenge each other on and off the court, and that’s the most important thing.”