No team, no season

No team, no season

Mount Mary Blue Angels basketball team forced to cancel season

By KIRBY MCMAHON and BARBARA KOLB

PHOTO BY KIRBY MCMAHONSophomore Shandrieka Richardson and senior Ashley Leverenz stand alone on the basketball court. Both returning players attended two-person practices until the season cancellation was officially announced. 

Less than two weeks into its 2012-13 season, Mount Mary’s Blue Angels basketball team is forced to call it quits.  New head coach and athletic director Michelle Guyant-Holloway opted to cancel the entire season due to a lack of players.

A basketball team requires at least five players on the court at all times.  An average team also has many players on the bench in case the starters foul out or tire and require a break.

While numbers has never been Mount Mary’s strength, the team usually fields anywhere from six to 12 committed players.  Last season, the Blue Angels managed to acquire a solid eight-player squad.

The Blue Angels started this season with a mere two players attending practice.

“Lack of participants was the main reason why we had to cancel the season,” Guyant-Holloway said.  “We had three able-bodied students and two that were injured.  That’s just not enough players to commit to a season.”

Returning player Ashley Leverenz was disappointed to have her senior season cancelled, but she wasn’t completely shocked.

“I was prepared for the season not to happen,” Leverenz said.  “It’s really sad, I mean, I would love to play my final year, but the number of committed players just wasn’t there.”

Although some inexperienced players offered to suit up and help out the Blue Angels, Guyant-Holloway decided it was a better idea to save the eligibility of her veteran players.  By not playing in any games this season, the returning players will have an extra year of eligibility.

“We had a few people that did try and come out,” Guyant-Holloway said.  “But for some reason or another they were not able to commit to the entire season. Whether it be health-related issues, academic ineligibility or not meeting the NCAA requirements.”

Guyant-Holloway is determined to field a team for the 2013-14 season.  She plans to recruit internally and externally to increase numbers and account for any injuries that might occur.

“Our entire athletic department as a whole is striving to improve on outside recruiting,” Guyant-Holloway said.  “We need to be more proactive as coaches and reach out to prospective student athletes instead of waiting for them to come to us.”

On the up side, the Blue Angels will not face harsh consequences from NCAA Division III at this point.

“We will be putting ourselves on probation for a year,” Guyant-Holloway said.  “It’s basically three strikes and you’re out.  So the real problem would occur if we weren’t able to field one of our teams next year.”

Guyant-Holloway will use the extra time to recruit players from local high schools and scout out possible players who already plan to attend Mount Mary. But for lone senior Ashley Leverenz, this may be the end of the line.

“There’s really not closure for me,” Leverenz said.  “It’s a hard realization that I’m never going to be able to play college basketball ever again.”

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