By Kaia Zimmerman
Because of COVID-19, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Grand Rapids Community College women’s basketball season and their start date, but the team is not letting that dampen their optimism about the challenges ahead.
Due to the executive order by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Jan. 13, contact sports aren’t currently allowed in the state of Michigan. The season is set to start Feb. 9, but because of future orders, the season is likely to be postponed again.
“We are optimistic,” said GRCC women’s basketball head coach, David Glazier. “I think our leadership is doing a good job of keeping us updated and having conversations about what has happened and what needs to happen. The bottom line is we are just concerned about the safety of our student-athletes, so that will come first.”
Glazier said he was optimistic that the Feb. 9 start date would stick, but now with more information, he does believe that it will be changed.
“We have not made any changes to the schedule at this time.” Glazier said in an email. “We do expect further changes to come, but just waiting on the conference to determine what that looks like.”
Student-athletes at GRCC are getting tested three times a week, and practices for all contact sports have been put on pause to ensure the safety of the athletes.
Preparations for the season have had to happen differently this year compared to last because of the pandemic. They have had to prepare through Zoom meetings, individual workouts, and non-contact practices.
One of the biggest challenges when practicing for the upcoming season is they can’t do any contact drills, meaning they can’t simulate real gameplay, so they must focus on skill work, conditioning and shooting.
“It’s definitely different, but we have a resilient group of young women this year, and they are taking it all in stride,” Glazier said.
Eurasia Green-Boyd, 19, of Ottawa Hills High School is the starting point guard for GRCC, and she is going into her sophomore season.
“It’s been really hard because we are used to being around each other all the time,” said Green-Boyd. “Since there are a lot of new rules added because of COVID-19, we aren’t allowed to play contact games yet, so it is hard, but we are learning to stick in there.”
Last season, the women’s team had a record of 15-16 overall, and a conference record of 12-6. They had a shooting percentage of 34.6%, and averaged 59.9 points per game, finishing third in conference. They made it to the regional semifinals where they fell to Muskegon Community College.
With the delay to the upcoming season, they had to shorten the season. Now they will be only playing conference games. They have a total of 10 regular season conference games scheduled, and then will enter the tournament season. Now with the postponement possibly being pushed further, we don’t know how long the season will be or even if they will have a season. Even with the shortened season, the team is prepared to play their hardest this year, and have the goal of winning a championship.
Danielle Lamancusa, 20, of Rockford is gearing up for her second season with the Raiders as a power forward and center. She is looking forward to the start of the season, and is working hard to improve herself and the team.
“If we have that grit everyday in practice and on the court, we can reach our longtime goal of a championship,” Lamancusa said.
Glazier thought it was important to have this season for both the athletes and the coaching staff.
“All of us are ready for some sense of normalcy,” Glazier said. “From a mental health standpoint, trying to make this season happen is important for the kids and all the coaching staff. We put in a lot of hours, and you like to see something come out of the hard work.”
One of the main goals for the team is to come together. Instead of playing as individuals, they want to come together as one to have more success.
“We are trying to be that one team that is over everybody that knows how to work together through hard times like losses of games and people feeling down on themselves,” Green-Boyd said. “We are trying to create that bond, so that no one feels left out.”
A freshman to watch for the upcoming season is Erin Kruithoff who plays in the guard position. “We think she’s got a strong ability to fit a shooter’s role that we haven’t had as consistent in the past,” Glazier said.
The team has also acquired some transfers that they are excited about, Olivia Koetje and Shonayah Hawkins. As transfers, they bring in experience which will help the young team.
While transfer players are important, Glazier is excited to see how returning sophmores Danielle Lamancusa and Eurasia Green-Boyd will grow this season.
“Both played pretty big roles for us last year, and that is going to expand this year… It’s exciting to know that we have that leadership role from them,” Glazier said.
GRCC women’s basketball was planning to kick off their season on Feb. 9, on the road against Mid-Michigan College. This start date is now uncertain because the future orders will likely make a difference for the season.