During a recent practice session at the Bryce Jordan Center, the squeaks of shoes and the harsh voices of coaches and players collide in the practice room. The ball travels swiftly among the hands of the Lady Lions, barely touching the floor until it is swallowed by the bottomless basket hanging in the air.
Led by Head Coach Coquese Washington, who recently brought home the title of the Big Ten Coach of the Year, the Lady Lions made it to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen and grabbed the Big Ten title. Junior guard Alex Bentley and sophomore guard Maggie Lucas were also awarded with their First Team All-Big Ten Honors.
Throughout the year, the Lady Lions’ schedules are packed with training, traveling and talking to the media.
“During the basketball season, your social life” comes second, says Talia East, a sophomore forward majoring in broadcast journalism. But, she adds, “I knew I was going to have a busy lifestyle. You have to make sacrifice to get it.”
Being on the team is “time-consuming,” agrees teammate Gizelle Studevent, a crime, law and justice major. “We miss classes and travel,” the junior guard says. She says she feels “like we owe it to the school to bring [Penn State] pride back,” especially after the Sandusky scandal. The coach emphasizes that the players “carry [themselves] well” at all times, Studevent says.
Despite all the odds against Penn State, East is “definitely happy about this season. We achieved our goals.”
East also says the team works to “hold up a legacy not only for ourselves but for future Lady Lions.”
There are not many secrets to the Lady Lions’ success, Studevent says.
“Work hard and it will be paid off.” It means practice, practice, practice.
“I love basketball,” she says. “It pays for my education and you get a lot: friendship, working with a team [and] leadership,” she says.