|Senior, Paige Bradley|
|Junior, Jesse Spittel|
The Denver women’s basketball program will set foot on the court for their first game on Friday, November 13th in Magness Arena. The team is thrilled to begin playing this season after they took a new approach and mindset when the team reported onto campus for summer training.
Senior guard, Paige Bradley (The Woodlands, Texas) says, “from the start of summer [we] could tell the whole team’s chemistry this year is based off of hard work, dedication, passion for the sport, and passion for each other.” The finance major with minors in accounting and math who refers to herself as a “math nerd,” commented on her excitement to get her final season underway.
Last season, the team finished 8-23 with five conference wins and 11 conference losses. The Pios fell 79-61 in the first round of the Summit League Tournament to the reigning Summit League Champs, South Dakota, who the Pios lost to in the year prior in the championship match. Following the tournament Bradley was named All-Tournament and Summit League-All League honorable mention.
The Pios hope to transfer the positive momentum this season with the general focus of building off the successes from last season and improving the team’s dynamic from the inside-out. The team arrived on campus to begin summer training and made additional efforts to incorporate the freshman class in order to ready them for the start of the season, and shape the team chemistry.
Junior forward, Jesse Spittel (Yorba Linda, California) added, “[I] feel like chemistry is essential on the court, it’s usually the hardest to integrate into a team and [we] really developed and worked on it over the summer. [I] think it will ignite another level in [us] this year, honestly [I] don’t think [I] really have ever experienced the type of chemistry [we] have created so far this year.”
With the increasing excitement and anticipation for league play just around the corner, both players verbalized concern and aspirations to see a larger attendance at their games this year. Spittle recognizes women’s basketball doesn’t necessarily create a huge draw to spectators saying, “Our sport is tough, not a lot of people are interested in watching women’s basketball. [We] kind of expect that [we] won’t have a ton of constant support so [we] really rely on ourselves. Obviously [we] aren’t as big as hockey or lacrosse, but [we] are working just as hard so it would be cool to see more support.”
Bradley reflects on the fan support over the years adding, “Since [I] have been at Denver there definitely has been an increase of student and fan support. [I] wouldn’t say Denver has the highest school spirit necessarily, but [I] know there have been efforts across campus whether it be from fraternities and sororities or other outside groups trying to increase support across athletics programs as a whole.”
The energy generated by a large, active crowd raises the team’s level of play. Spittel described when the men’s lacrosse team came to one of the women’s basketball games, “The energy [they] were able to bring brought a completely different level of play and comradery among student athletes because [we] could actually focus on playing rather than trying to play and fill the absence of energy in Magness due to its huge size.”
Similar to the observations of the women’s gymnastics team, the women’s basketball team comments on Denver’s special environment within the athletic community on campus. Bradley says, “The athletic community is very tight-knit, what’s made [my] experience so great is definitely the people here, [I] have made some lifelong friends.” The athletes make extra efforts to support each other at their matches because “when [you] actually know the athletes playing the game it really changes how [you] watch the sport,” according to Spittel. The forward also adds, “[I] love being a student athlete, the responsibilities that come with it can be really difficult, but it has it’s benefits.”
Spittel is planning on studying abroad in the Netherlands next spring, following the end of their season to further her International Business studies. At the end of the day, athletes are still students studying at the university level and Spittel is a prime example that being a student athlete doesn’t have to completely dictate one’s life. There are still opportunities for student athletes to take advantage of DU’s various resources and engage in campus life.
While the athletic community is incredibly close on campus, the players love and thrive on of the support and attendance of their fellow classmates. Ultimately, athletes represent the school and supporting them is a great way to boost school spirit. Denver’s student morale is an area that has potential to greatly benefit from broadening outside of the powerhouse athletics and supporting all sports, specifically women’s athletics, who equally exert just as much time and dedication into their specific field.
Make sure to stay connected with the women’s basketball team on Twitter @DU_WHoops and on Instagram @du_whoops as they embark on the 2015-16 season.