women's basketball
Hillery Shepherd attempts a one-handed layup.
Photo Provided by Nick Rush

Women’s Basketball Reflects on Recent Games

Chloe Leckrone

As the women’s basketball season nears its end, Assistant Coach Faith-Alexis Graham and players discussed their recent game against Bluffton University and reflected on the importance of women’s sports at Manchester.

Manchester’s women’s basketball team went head-to-head with Bluffton on Feb. 12. The game was a tough one, with Manchester ultimately losing 65-58. “It was a ‘have-to-win’ scenario,” said Hannah Lindsey, a first-year sports management major and women’s basketball player. “But at the same time, if you don’t win, you still have a chance to get into the tournament.” Playing the Bluffton team in their own territory was a challenge for Manchester. “Bluffton is a really good team at home,” Lindsey said. “From what the coach said, it was probably one of our best performances we’ve given at a Bluffton game.”

Lindsey believes that the game had easy fixes that can be improved in the coming games. “I think this was a very good game for us to learn because we are a very young team,” she said. “Hopefully we can take that into Saturday and the last three games of the season.”

Sophomore player and elementary education major Miranda Bieghler agreed that this game was well played. “We had energy and played hard the entire time, which we haven’t done in a few games, so it was good to see that come back to us for the last few games of the season,” Bieghler said.

With the season coming to an end soon, team members have had time to reflect on what is important to them about playing on the team. One significant aspect is the vitality of having women’s sports and spaces for female athletes at Manchester. Coach Graham, who is a Manchester University alumna, said: “It allows women to be a part of something bigger than just academics, it also allows them to make connections they may have never had without sports.”

For Bieghler, being on the basketball team and participating in women’s sports in general has been meaningful. “It allowed me to grow as a person because I’ve gotten to be involved in so many things in the community and I’ve met some amazing people on the team,” she said.

Lindsey agreed that being on the team has helped her grow as a person and learn valuable lessons. She described her experience with women’s sports as a “privilege,” saying: “I can’t imagine growing up in a time before we had Title IX or before the NCAA even recognized female athletes.”

While the players and coaches believe the women’s team is valued as much as the men’s team by the Manchester community, they have noticed a difference in turnout at their games. All three women mentioned their crowds being smaller than the typical crowd at a men’s game. “I wish that could improve so we can have a better atmosphere to play in,” Bieghler said.

Lindsey believes part of the reason for this difference in turnout may have to do with the fact that people often do not expect the same quality of play from the women’s team. “A lot of people don’t realize that women’s sports can be just as competitive as men’s sports,” Lindsey said. “I think it’s always difficult because the level of play in a lot of people’s eyes isn’t the same. That’s kind of the give-and-take of women’s sports no matter where you play.”

As a sports management major, Lindsey has an alternative perspective of what the experience of women in sports can be like. Sports management is very much a male-dominated field and having female friends in her major has made things much smoother. “It makes it a lot easier, having somebody in your corner—having somebody to ask questions and talk to.”

In the next few weeks, the women’s basketball season will come to an end, but there are still many games and events to look forward to. Graham is most excited about the team’s opportunity to make it to the conference tournament, and Bieghler is thinking about the team’s upcoming home games. “That is where we play best,” Bieghler said.

Like Bieghler, Lindsey has home games on her mind. “I think the Anderson game will be a very good game for us,” Lindsey said. “With it being a rivalry and at home, hopefully we can get a big crowd out and get a lot of support."