By: Chase Gardiner/GCU Staff
Fortitude: Courage in pain or adversity.
Example: The Grand Canyon University Women’s Club Basketball team showed immense fortitude over the weekend at the NIRSA National Basketball Championships at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.
After an impressive first-place finish in the NIRSA Regionals Tournament in late February, the Lopes were thrilled to have a chance to repeat their performance. While they didn’t bring home a trophy this time, the Lopes still reached the championship bracket of the national tournament, losing in the quarterfinals to the University of Connecticut, 31-30. The Lopes finished the tournament with a 2-2 record.
Coming within a point of reaching the national semifinals demonstrated the Lopes’ immense resilience to several forms of adversity. For example, the Lopes’ first game of the tournament against Prairie View A&M University tipped off just hours after the team had arrived in Columbus. With travel alone being enough to fatigue players, a three-hour time differential only made the situation tougher. To make matters worse, the women had made the trip with only six athletes, meaning that minutes would be stretched, and substitutions limited.
“Travel was pretty difficult for us,” explained Lopes’ Head Coach Erin Reinke. “We were up by 11 at halftime of our first game, but fatigue from travel began to set in, and you could see it on the court as we ultimately ended up losing by eight. I honestly believe that we would’ve won that game had we been fresh and better rested.”
The Lopes fought back from their initial defeat with a 49-34 win over Middle Tennessee State University to finish out pool play, then outworked the University of California-Davis in their first game of championship-round play to win a defensive battle, 22-13.
“I have to give the girls credit for bouncing back the way they did,” said Reinke. “Our defense has carried us this whole season, and it continued to do so as the girls really dug deep and made some big plays.”
According to Reinke, her team’s immense determination is a direct result of the bonds her athletes have created together.
“The connection that the girls have, the respect they have for each other, and the coaching staff? It really is like we are all family,” said Reinke. “I think that’s something to be recognized, because not all teams have that connection, and that’s why we’ve had such success so far.”
To prove her point, Reinke pointed out that she wasn’t the only one to notice the fortitude and camaraderie of her team.
“We got so many compliments from parents and coaches and other teams, because even though we had no subs, the girls still competed at a very high level,” beamed Reinke. “In my opinion, we had the best six athletes in the whole tournament, and that’s something to be really proud of.”
Next year, Reinke expects to have no problems with being shorthanded again.
“Depth is what we need at the end of the day,” she explained. “While our best six players showed out extremely well, we would love to have more depth. If we can get that, we should be starting off next season the same way we ended this one, which is by constantly improving.”
Interested in joining the women’s basketball team? Contact the coach to learn more!