Strong leadership key to team’s cohesion in women’s basketball

Courtesy of Lewis & Clark

After 623 days of atypical practices and conditioning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lewis & Clark’s women’s basketball began their 2021-22 season on Nov. 6. The Pios are seven games into their season and have a record of 3-4.

Along with adjusting to being back on the court, the team is also undergoing some staffing changes. Former Head Coach Kristina Williams stepped down from the position she held for three seasons in March 2021 in order to pursue other professional interests, and Ann Dorris was hired as the new head coach in June.

Dorris played basketball in college at Hardin-Simmons University in Texas, before transferring to University of Lynchburg in Virginia. She then stayed on at Lynchburg as an assistant coach, before moving to upstate New York to coach at Hobart and William Smith Colleges where she was the primary assistant coach for four years.

Though she is a new face on campus, Dorris feels that the team has welcomed her with open arms.

“I think embraced is a great word for it,” Dorris said. “It’s been everything I could ask for as a head coach, especially for my first year with the team, they’ve just been so open to change, so open to my coaching, open to having a relationship, open to working together and working hard.”

While most teams have captains, Dorris prefers the term “leadership group” because it is less hierarchical. Shooting guard Peyton Romo ’22 and center Coco Shafer ’22 are two members of this five-person group that also includes Delsie Johnson ’22, Laurel Marchant ’22, and Gabby Beltran ’23. It is important to the leadership group that all members of the team consider themselves leaders.

“While we are in the leadership group, everyone else on the team really are leaders as well,” Shafer said. “That’s been a huge emphasis, making the younger girls feel as if they still have a voice, especially because a lot of us are leaving next year.”

One of the first things the team has been doing since Doris’ arrival is deciding what their team values would be.

“Together we’re kind of asking who are we and who we want to be,” Dorris said. “So far we’ve chosen family, trust, legacy (as our main values), and I’m pretty sure they chose sportsmanship for their fourth one. So I think that is very indicative of this culture, who they are and what they value.”

The leadership group also values passing on their culture to the underclassmen who are new to the team and college itself.

“I think we’re right where we need to be,” Romo said. “Figuring out our offensive flow, figuring out our defensive flow, what works best for our team, and just our culture of being really united and very family-oriented. That has been our key and I feel like the sophomores and the underclassmen really understand the emphasis of that before basketball.”

Developing the team’s culture has been the toughest but most rewarding part of their journey, according to Dorris. Because the team had taken so much time off, when the season started this particular group of players had never played a game together before. For the seniors, they had not played a game since their sophomore year. The juniors had only played a college game as freshmen.

“I think the biggest thing we’re working on right now is finding our identity as a team,” Dorris said. “Learning how to work together offensively, learning how to work together defensively, I think that’s a big piece, especially in these first couple months where they haven’t played a game in two years. This team has never played together, and so right now it’s just a lot of learning each other.”

As their senior season continues, Shafer and Romo are excited to be back on the court playing with their best friends.

“I’m just really trying to remember why I play,” Romo said. “Really soak up all the moments that I have with the seniors and living in Portland one last year and just getting some wins.”

On Dec. 3 at 6 p.m. the Pios face Pacific Lutheran at home for the first time since Feb. 22, 2020.

About Aidan D'Anna 57 Articles
Aidan was a contributor for the Pioneer Log in his first semester at Lewis and Clark and became a features editor for his second semester. He is also a member of the Ultimate Frisbee team, Model United Nations, and Psych club. As a features editor, he hopes to direct students’ attention to events, people, and interesting details about the community they share. He also hopes to inspire fellow students to write for the Pioneer Log and contribute to its supportive journalistic environment. Aidan is a Psychology major and English minor. In his free time, he enjoys reading, writing poetry, playing the piano, and all things comedy.

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