Hard work and experience define Valparaiso University Women’s Basketball

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Community News & People in the News, Featured

Published on November 24, 2021 with No Comments

VU has been preparing for its long-awaited season

By Olivia Brown, feature writer for The Chronicle

For many students, summertime means sleeping until 10:00 or 11:00 a.m. For Shay Frederick, the summer was spent waking up at 6:00 a.m. each morning before practice to go shoot and work on her basketball skills.

This hard work has been ingrained in Frederick since she first began playing basketball, the senior said.

“I’ve always wanted to be the best basketball player I could be,” said the 5’6 four-year starter. “I have high standards for myself, so if I have to sacrifice a few hours of sleep it’s worth it.”

Frederick’s dedication is just one example of the work ethic displayed by the players of the Valparaiso University women’s basketball team.

On days off from practice, Coach Mary Evans will watch from her office as her players flow in and out of the gym doing extra workouts.

Evans said most college players don’t spend extra time playing basketball outside of practice. Yet most days many Valpo players spend an hour of their own time in the gym on top of their two-hour practice and hour-long lift, said Evans. 

“I think our team doesn’t understand the maturity level they have,” said Evans. “I love their work ethic. They really embrace hard work.”

The Valpo basketball team began its 2021-2022 season Wednesday, Nov. 10th. Valpo’s first game has been a long-awaited date; they have been preparing since the summer.

“We’ve been on campus since June, and we kept them here for eight weeks, which is longer than normal,” said Evans, a fourth-year coach at VU.  

The weight room, led by Coach Trent Smart, was an area of focus for the team.

“The intensity of the sessions was married with the intensity of the field work. If we did high intensity sprints it would be a heavy day in the weight room,” said Smart. These heavy days, for example, would consist of eight sets of squats, dumbbell presses, and other movements, added Smart.

Each week this summer, the team spent four days in the weight room and five hours on the court in team practice. Additionally, they spent eight hours a week in practice and three hours in the weight room for three months this fall. 

In total, the team put in nearly 200 hours of work in preparation for their season.

Experience, especially from their four returning starters, defines this VU women’s basketball team.

Shay Frederick and Carie Weinman headline the program. 

Frederick’s hard work has been paying off, as she was first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) last season. Frederick led the conference in minutes played (36 minutes) and averaged 14.5 points and 4.7 assists per game.

Weinman, a fifth-year senior, was an MVC honorable mention and a repeat member of the MVC All-Defensive team. Weinman averaged 14.5 points and 3 steals a game.

“[Carie Weinman] is a very versatile offensive threat by shooting the three and getting to the rim,” said Evans. “She’s equally as talented as a defensive player.”

Caitlin Morrison, a sixth-year senior, is an incredible shooter and defender. She was top five in the MVC in blacked shots (26) and shot an impressive 35% from three. 

Grace White, another fifth-year senior, is one of the most talented basketball players Coach Evans said she has ever coached. White, a transfer from the University of Denver, averaged 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists per game.

Along with seasoned players, VU has experience winning big-time games.

Last season, they beat two Big 10 teams, Illinois and Purdue, and lost to a third, Wisconsin, in overtime.

“I think that helped give us confidence and grow as a team in the fact that we can compete against anyone,” said Evans.

This season, Valparaiso plays other big names: Notre Dame and Michigan State. Evans said their goal is to finish top four in the Missouri Valley Conference and win a conference championship.

Valpo finished 12-13 last year, with a 4-3 record in non-conference, and a 7-9 record in conference.

“This season we’re looking forward to competing in a really tough conference and non-conference schedule,” said Frederick, the senior point guard. “We’ve put in a tremendous amount of work this offseason and we want to compete for a conference championship.”

“I’m really excited to build on what we did last year,” said Caitlin Morrison, a sixth-year shooting guard. “I’m excited for the new players we have and to apply our off-season work to playing in games.”

With their hard work, experience, and hours spent in practice, Valparaiso University women’s basketball is poised to become a leader in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Tickets can be purchased to attend the Valpo women’s basketball team at www.valpoathletics.com/tickets/wbasketball. Season tickets, $50, include all home games during the 2021-22 season with lower level and open seating available. Individual tickets, $10, include general admission, lower level, open seating. For the women’s basketball games schedule, visit www.valpoathletics.com/tickets/wbasketball/schedule. For more information call 219-464-5233.

Pullout: VU’s next home game will be Wednesday, Dec. 8 at 6:00 p.m. against Notre Dame.

Cutline pix 1: Women’s 2021-22 basketball team.

Top row, left to right: Lauren Gunn, Carie Weinman, Leah Earnest, Ella Van Weelden, Cara VanKempen, Katie Beyer, Maya Dunson, Jayda Johnston, Lovie Malone; bottom row, left to right: Shay Frederick, Syria Butler, Molly Sheehan, Caitlin Morrison, Grace White, Olivia Brown, Ava Interrante, Illyse Pitts.

Cutline pix 2: Team huddle from 2020-21 season.

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