Typically in sports, a team’s success is judged by how many wins and losses a particular team has over the course of a season, but that’s not the case for the 2014 Women Braves Basketball Team.
The Lady Braves have had to deal with adversity all season long, but with the leadership of Coach Danielle Osterhaus, the Lady Braves refuse to make excuses for themselves despite a 3-11 start to their season.
With the women’s team not having an official Head Coach this season, Men’s Basketball Head Coach, Darren Bizarri, who has oversight over the program, appointed Coach Osterhaus to be the lead Assistant Coach this season. However, Coach Osterhaus has been informed by Athletic Director Gary Huber that she will be the official Head Coach for the Lady Braves beginning next season. Coach Osterhaus is a former student at Black Hawk, where she played for the Lady Braves Basketball team from 2001 to 2003.
The Lady Braves had to deal with adversity right from the starting gate this season. They currently only have ten players on the roster mostly because Coach Osterhaus was not with the program last season, and they were unable to recruit as many players as they would have liked. On top of that, Zoe Kelso went down with an ACL tear in the first game of the season. However, Zoe showed dedication and resilience when she came back from the injury, and she has been playing with an ACL tear and a slight MCL tear ever since.
The team has been able to overcome their early season struggles with leaders like Ellie May and Zoe Kelso stepping up.
“Players like Zoe and Ellie taking a chance to come into our program has been a huge lift for us. With Zoe going down with an ACL tear in the very first game, and then coming back she showed adversity and strength with playing with the complete ACL tear and a slight MCL tear. She’s continued to play and start, and she’s been productive for our team. Those are our two leaders, and game in and game out they prove why they are on the team,” Coach Osterhaus explains.
As the season has progressed this year’s team has grown closer together, and the girls look at one another as a family rather than just teammates. Zoe Kelso explains, “We all get along so well. I’ve never been on a team where everybody clicks and there’s no drama, which is surprising with girls. The girls really make it ten times more fun than it really is.”
Coach Osterhaus agrees that the atmosphere around the team is just like a family environment, and the team looks to build off of that type of unity for years to come. “They all get along extremely well, and they all work hard together. That is something that not a lot of teams have.”
With only six games remaining on the schedule before the regional tournament in March, the Lady Braves must find a way to limit their turnovers which has been the team’s Achilles heel for the majority of the season. If the Lady Braves can improve on the unforced errors then they can have a legitimate chance to surprise a lot of teams come tournament time.
Coach Osterhaus won a Regional Championship while playing for the Lady Braves, and she believes this year’s team has the opportunity to win a Regional Championship as well. Coach Osterhaus stresses to her team that they have to believe in themselves and believe that they are a force to be reckoned with.
“We have a team that can be competitive and actually win the first Regional Championship since I was here as a player. It’s there for us to take and it’s there for our girls to take. They just have to come together and want it, and with that it has to come with low turnovers and believing as a team we can do it,” Coach Osterhaus said.
The Lady Braves have every reason to believe they can achieve their ultimate goal of winning a Championship. With players like Carlee Hoover, who leads the team in scoring, and Lauren Claus, who has one of the best shooting percentages on the team, the Lady Braves can be a dynamic offense on any given night. Then you can’t forget about Courtney Colbert, who Coach Osterhaus refers to as the “Defensive Crazy Lady.”
“If Courtney doesn’t do anything except stop a player defensively she’s thrilled, that’s what she wants to do. Those are the things that don’t end up on the stats sheet. Her defensive tenacity actually elevates our team as a whole as well,” Coach Osterhaus said.
This season has been an uphill battle for the Lady Braves and they’ve had their backs against the wall from the start of the season. It’s safe to say they have a chip on their shoulder, and they truly feel like they have something to prove to all those who doubted them from the very beginning.
Ellie May explains it best, “We want to come back and beat the teams that beat us, so it’s pretty much revenge. We feel like we could have beat those teams but we just had off games, so it’s a challenge to go back and beat them. Being the underdogs can be fun at times, especially to prove people wrong.”