William Masselli ~ Sports Columnist
On Mar. 11, 2021, the University of Lynchburg Women’s Basketball Team vanquished ODAC rival, Roanoke College, to seize the ODAC Championship.
Interim Head Coach Catherine Crump was ecstatic about the win, and she used the win as a teaching tool to teach her players to always work hard on the job.
Crump said, “When I transitioned to the interim head coach position, my own expectations were the same as any position I have held. First, I wanted to work hard to represent the program at the highest level. Also, I wanted to do my best to provide the best experience for the team, especially during these challenging times when we were not sure what the season would look like due to the pandemic. The success this team has experienced has been three or four years in the making. This team has always been talented, but without the personal growth and maturation on and off the court, we would not be in this position. I also believe there was a sense of urgency this season due to the pandemic. Throughout the season, we talked about how we are only guaranteed today whether it be practice or a game.”
Crump continued, “What this group of young women was able to accomplish this season was phenomenal. I believe this championship represents the power of showing up every day with the intention to get better and bring your best. We all had to be at our best and have each other’s backs for the team and each other. This group embraced each other, played with joy, gratitude, and love for the game. This season has been unlike any other, but we were successful in ways beyond the court because we stayed together. This group embraced and embodied ‘as strong as the woman next to me’. Bringing another championship to this program and Lynchburg community is a testament to the support around our program. Starting with our alumnae and the foundation they laid which includes the following: our sports medicine staff, strength staff, sports info and digital media coverage, family, friends, and campus administration. As an alumna, I am so proud of what this group accomplished! Being in the position and finally cutting down a net on our home floor was a tremendous honor and the best feeling.”
Crump concluded by talking about the biggest lessons learned from this season, stating, “Whether a freshman or senior, our team’s biggest lesson is that we can handle any challenge that comes our way. Being resilient, leaning on others, and asking for help is the definition of true strength. On or off the floor, there will always be challenges but you always have a choice to persevere. There were several games, including the championship, when we were down or struggled to get going. However, we stuck together and never gave up. Through these moments of adversity, we really came together when we could have easily unraveled. We had to lean on each other and remind ourselves of all the preparations that come before the games such as the early morning conditioning, lifts, individual workouts, fitness tests, film sessions, and scout studying. Success does not come overnight. Success results from discipline, resiliency, hard work, staying true to yourself, and investing in teammates.”
Abigail Oguich, a junior, believes this championship victory will lead to University of Lynchburg winning the ODAC next year, stating, “Winning this ODAC championship this year will definitely lead us to another one next year. We were hit with the biggest adversity this year due to coaching changes and COVID-19 protocols, yet we still got the job done. Next year, we will deeply miss Quarles’ leadership and her tremendous work ethic to the team, but we know she is going to do great things in the world beyond basketball.”
Oguich gave credit to the vanquished opponent, stating, “Playing Roanoke is always a close game. However, last year we lost pretty badly to them at their home court. This year we had the mindset of taking one game at a time and the first time we played them this year we went into overtime. This was an awesome experience to have, knowing we could see them again in the championship game. We were so prepared coming into the championship game, but we knew it was going to be a battle until the end. The significance of beating Roanoke on our home court for the ODAC title was the best feeling.”
Margaret Quarles, a senior, stated, “My favorite moment throughout my career would have to be winning the ODAC Championship and being able to cut down a net on our home floor. There was something so special about being able to accomplish this in the gym where we have put in so much work and preparation. I am so grateful that I was able to finish my career on a win, alongside my favorite people, at my favorite place.”
Quarles expressed how much she will miss playing basketball for the University of Lynchburg, stating, “There are so many things that I am going to miss about playing basketball at Lynchburg, but the biggest one is the people. When you spend so much time with your teammates, they become more like your family. I have had the opportunity to experience this journey with some of my best friends. I have loved watching them grow and change over the years. I know that my teammates will be my best friends for life, but I will definitely miss putting my jersey on and competing with my best friends every day.”
Quarles left a message to inspire her teammates, stating, “My message to everyone is just to embrace the journey. I feel as if my time here at Lynchburg has flown by, so I encourage everyone to enjoy every moment. There are going to be hard times, but the struggles are a part of the journey. Work hard and enjoy the little moments, like bus rides and team meals. Once your four years are up, those are the things that you will look back and remember. In addition, the four years that you spend as a part of the women’s basketball team will help you to grow into a strong, confident woman. I would not be the person I am today without this program and I am so fortunate to have been a part of it. When things get hard, remember how it felt to cut down a net on our home court alongside your best friends. There truly is no better feeling.”