When Bakersfield College head women’s basketball coach Paula Dahl met with her incoming sophomores before the start of summer practice, they brought a plan of how they wanted to approach the year.
What BC’s current sophomores believed they were missing last season was leadership on the team. The six second-year players on the roster now want to provide that for the 12 freshmen on the team. They’re also hoping that’ll turn into a smoother transition for the new players than last season.
BC opened its season Friday with a 76-49 loss to Pasadena, but followed up Saturday with a 69-64 victory over Riverside to even its record at 1-1.
“They’ve brought a lot more leadership than was brought from last year’s team at the beginning, and that makes a huge difference,” Dahl said.
Last season was marred by a slow start for the Renegades. They dropped their first five games before ending the year on a 17-4 run.
The freshmen were having trouble fitting in and adjusting.
“We didn't have really someone that was leading as example,” Kroeger said. “We were being told what to do but not really shown.”
Eventually the team fit the right pieces together and ended the season better than it began. As far as carrying momentum from last season into this year, Dahl called the now-sophomores’ commitment during the offseason as “unprecedented.”
They’ve served as translators from Dahl to the first-year players, explaining what the head coach is saying and expects. They show how a play or drill is executed.
“They have been mentors the whole time and they’re positive influences, and that makes a huge difference,” Dahl said.
Even individually, Dahl was surprised with the work of her players. Dahl and the coaches talked about guard Octavia Croney pacing herself too much. When the team got back to practice, Dahl realized Croney doesn’t do that anymore.
Sophomore Angie Kroeger’s confidence is up thanks to her strong end of the season. At the start of last year, she didn’t really comprehend the college game and its differences from high school, Kroeger said.
Freshman Brianna Mendez said she’s thankful that the sophomores push her every day in practice and that they are showing her the ropes.
“We’re being the role models to keep the team together,” Croney added.
This will be the sophomores’ second and final year with the Renegades women’s basketball team, but they’re hoping the example they’re setting will carry into classes of players and seasons to come.
“We’re trying to show them so that they can do that next year and they can roll it over,” Kroeger said.