Washington State senior Kate Benz kicks off the 2006-07 season of Kate's Chronicles as she continues to share her experiences with the Cougar women's basketball team. The forward from Portland, Ore., chronicled life as a Cougar during both her sophomore and junior seasons and will continue her accounts throughout her senior year. Please visit www.wsucougars.com for access to current and past entries.
October 24, 2006
Excitement, nerves and a significant learning curve characterize the beginning of practice for the 2006-2007 Cougars.
As a senior, I quietly watched as the freshmen put on their practice jerseys for the first time, and I chuckled to myself knowing they were so nervous. Questions fluttered through their heads about what their first practice would be like. For our five newcomers, this was their initial taste of a collegiate practice. Last year they were seniors and team leaders, and now they have to work their way into a new system, with new teammates and raised expectations.
I must say I have been impressed. Partaking in drills and watching on the sidelines, it is clear that the talent of our newcomers is not only exciting, but it brings a new dimension to our team. These girls display quickness and athleticism that we have not necessarily seen in this program before.
With four new guards and one new post, however, there is a great deal of teaching and learning taking place at our practices. It has been interesting to see the different on-court personalities of the newcomers. Luckily, we spent a great deal of time together over the summer, and we got to know each other better than many teams who don't spend their summers together at school.
Also, prior to the beginning of official practices, we were fortunate enough to take part in a team assessment program which taught us each other's strengths and weaknesses. We learned about our personality types and we were able to characterize our tendencies and possible issues we might encounter as a team. Most of us had never partaken in such a program, and we were able to share a lot more with each other than any of us ever had on a team before.
I think one of the most interesting things about our team is the ability of our younger players to learn quickly, and I don't mean just in terms of basketball. If there wasn't a roster, you might not even know some of these girls are freshmen. Although each of the new members of our team are experiencing growing pains, they seem to be taking it all in and working hard to prove themselves as Cougars.
I think the enthusiasm and desire to win are the strongest they have been in my years as a Coug. It is definitely a weird feeling being a senior - I no longer felt the nerves that accompanied the first practice, but I certainly sensed the anticipation and excitement. I'm convinced this will be the most successful year of Cougar women's basketball in Coach Murrell's tenure. It's bittersweet but motivating as well…because anything can happen in the next four months.
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