The Hillsdale College women’s basketball team expected to kick off its season with two home games against Kentucky Wesleyan University and Trevecca Nazarene University this week. Both of those games were canceled, however, due to positive cases COVID-19 on the opposing teams. Now instead, the Chargers will travel to the University of Findlay in Findlay, Ohio, tonight at 5:30 p.m.
Senior guard and team captain Jaycie Burger said that despite the cascade of setbacks this year, the team has managed to maintain a good attitude.
“Of course we are all frustrated with the cancellation, as we are ready to play. But it’s a crazy year, and we’re thankful to have games on the schedule,” Burger said. “We just have to roll with the punches and make sure we are ready when we have the opportunity to play.”
Head coach Charlie Averkamp said the team was obviously disappointed with the news of the cancellations.
“They’re smart kids, though, and they have perspective,” Averkamp said. “I told them, ‘I would be upset if I were you.’ I said, ‘Go be mad and angry until the end of the warm-up, and once the warm-up ends, we are focused on what we can do and what we can do to get better.’”
Averkamp even added that their frustration can be valuable energy for improving and strengthening the team.
“If you’re a competitor, you’re going to be annoyed and frustrated,” Averkamp said. “It is a good thing. If they weren’t upset, then I’d be a lot more worried.”
As of right now, the game against Trevecca has yet to be rescheduled, but the game against Kentucky Wesleyan will be at home on Dec. 31 at 12p.m.
Averkamp said that Dec. 31 postponement means the Chargers will have to be extra focused during their Christmas break training. They normally get only about 10 days off from practice during the break. This year, they will return a few days early, but Averkamp said that each player will have to practice on her own while at home.
“Knowing our group, they will put in the work and be ready to go,” Averkamp said.
According to Averkamp, the team would already have played seven or eight games by this point in a normal season. Normally, games would have begun the first weekend in November.
Averkamp said this playing time is important because actually putting practice to the test allows players to check up on how they are really doing. It also provides opportunities to watch tape of past games and work out the strengths and weaknesses of each player’s individual performance.
“Especially this year it’s tough for them because we have new coaches and a new system,” Averkamp said. “They have not gotten to see if this is even going to work.”
Despite the recurrent disappointment of canceled and postponed games, Averkamp said the women’s team is fortunate in that 12 out of 14 members have already tested positive for COVID. According to NCAA rules, positive test results exempt players from mandatory testing for 90 days. That means, there is no chance for a positive test result upending chances to play in any given game.
Junior guard Lauren Daffenberg said the team still holds out hope for a successful season.
“I think we are just really excited. There is a lot of enthusiasm, especially when we have usually played a lot of games by now, “ Daffenberg said. “There is a lot of eagerness just to get out on the court however we can.”