The California Lutheran University women’s basketball team is welcoming their incoming class of seven first-years and two transfers for the upcoming 2018-19 season.
“With this group, you’ll see that they’re very hardworking, very dedicated and they have a pretty strong skill set,” Head Coach Lindsay Samaniego said. “I’m really looking forward to meshing them with the returners and seeing which ones can make an immediate impact for our program.”
Even though the team has a lot of newcomers, incoming first-year guard Haley Tyrell is not discouraged.
“I think we have a good diversity and that’s important to have on any team,” Tyrell said. “I think it’s just going to make everyone better and just help push everyone to do well. It just creates a stronger bond and a stronger family.”
This season, the returners can use their knowledge from last season to help the new players succeed.
“It should be really interesting because a lot of the freshmen who played last year have experience playing college basketball, so it should be fun playing with them this year,” senior team captain and guard Grace Derksen said.
Last year, the Regals made it to the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference playoffs, but lost in the first round.
After that, Derksen said they are even more determined to win this year, and to have fun at the same time.
“I think that was a good thing for our team this year because we learned so much from that one game and it did bring a lot of the rookies, or the freshmen, a lot of good college experience on what it is to be playing in a playoff game,” Derksen said.
The first-year and transfer players will also have support from senior teammates Derksen, forward Kayla Watterson and guards Liana Minassian and Rylie Wada.
“I think that us four seniors have already set a foundation for the returners and the freshmen on what it’s like to play within a Regals program,” Derksen said. “I think the senior leadership will help a lot as well.”
Time may be an obstacle for the Regals. The first game is in November and the incoming players have a lot to learn.
“I think the biggest challenge early on the team will face is the lack of time for preparation,” Samaniego said. “We start practice Oct. 15 and we turn around and play our first exhibition within a couple weeks against a really good Westmont team.”
Tyrell and first-year forward Cameron Mallory both said they can’t wait to get out on the court.
“They’ve done a great job of welcoming us to the team and I think we created a bond right away and that’ll transfer to the court,” Mallory said.
Derksen said the team is determined to come home as SCIAC champions this year and prove that they have the work ethic to achieve that.
“I think most of my goals this year are more team-oriented,” Tyrell said. “I know our huge team goal is to win the SCIAC so I think that’s something to look forward to.”
Samaniego said winning and advancing to the championships is something all the girls dream of, but there is more to it than that.
“I think if you ask anyone here, winning is something we are striving for,” Samaniego said. “Along with that, we have to understand the process of it and what needs to be done to get to that point.”
Until practice begins in mid-October, the players can to participate in a strength and conditioning program that will continue throughout the year.
Mallory said teamwork and team chemistry with each other will equate to most of their success.
“We all motivate each other to do better and be the best version of ourselves, so I think that’s really going to help us get better as individuals and a team,” Mallory said.
The Regals’ first basketball game of the season is Nov. 11.
“We’re excited to get started and we’re excited to see what the future holds for our program,” Samaniego said.