10 Reasons For CNU To Be Proud
Christopher Newport made it all the way to the NCAA Women's D3 Finals. The Captains finished their season with an amazing 33-1 record. But there are many other reasons this team should be proud. Here are just 10:
1. Bill Broderick Head Coach, Bill Broderick, coached his tenth season at Christopher Newport University. The overall winning percentage of his squads is over 84 percent. This year marks his seventh year in a row leading the team into at least the Sweet 16. Since Broderick began coaching the women’s basketball, CNU has consistently ranked high in the polls. But his character is perhaps even more noteworthy.
Often described as competitive and caring by his players, Broderick emphasizes the importance of getting to know his players not just basketball-wise, but as individuals. “They can count on me no matter what,” he said. Broderick is an extremely passionate person, especially when it comes to basketball. He knows that basketball isn’t the players’ whole lives and he makes sure to care about his players as people first and as basketball players second. But as senior Katy Rader notes, “he keeps it very fun”.
2. Luck and Hard Work “We had an amazing season [in 2022],” Broderick said, “I didn’t necessarily know if we would be able to repeat that again.” But that they did. Broderick said sometimes you need some luck along the way. In a game against Washington and Lee ending in double overtime win, he credits luck as responsible. Luck may have brought victory for that game, but the real asset to the team is their hard work and dedication. This season, the team has worked extremely hard during the offseason and preseason.
3. Fresh Team Dynamic Following last season, the Captains lost five seniors and a top junior, so this season they welcomed seven freshmen to the team.
“I think that dynamic is really different, but it’s been fun to be in a role where we’re impacting other people and trying to teach them the ropes of how things go,” junior Gabbi San Diego said.
The team had an interesting dynamic, consisting of seven freshmen, two seniors, two graduate students, along with some juniors and sophomores. Broderick notes that the two graduate students and Rader became an extension of the coaching staff and acted as a “team mom.”
Though the difference of age between players was pretty significant, Rader believes that they were all on the same page. “We’re all like minded...we all have the same goal and mindset.” It is no secret that the team works well together on the court, but Broderick’s philosophy on being up front and honest with each other helps the team work through issues with one another. “The teams that are closest together and get along together tend to be the teams that do the best,” Broderick said.
4. Gabbi San Diego Standing at 5’1”, Gabbi San Diego is the team's “little five foot general,” according to Broderick. She’s perhaps one of the best players on the team and her height is no obstacle. “I think it’s always put a chip on my shoulder to just be a really, really hard worker,” San Diego said. She knows she cannot control her height so instead she focuses on the things she can change. San Diego works extra hard to become stronger and more athletic and her dedication to becoming the best player she can be has allowed her to become a good leader. Instead of an obstacle, her height has become an asset.
5. They’re One Big Happy Family According to Broderick, the team’s secret power is their chemistry. There was very little drama which is difficult to avoid among a team that spends the majority of their time together. Broderick emphasizes the importance of discussing things as a family, which San Diego notes is “of high value.” The team loves to spend time together whether it’s after practice or on a plane ride to their next game.
They embraced the diversity of their team and were quick to support each other. Rader notes that the team was talking about visiting Chinatown to embrace Sondra Fan’s Chinese culture. Just like a family, they all have the same expectations, and the dynamic between younger and older players is similar to those of a younger and older sister.
6. Underdogs With a season full of multiple injuries many players had had to step up to fill the absence of a teammate. Arguably the best player on the team, Anaya Simmons, tore her ACL, “My heart hurts for her . . . more for her just as a person, " Broderick said. With Simmons out, San Diego and Broderick noted that they became the underdogs.
7. They’re Extremely Competitive “Whether we’re playing basketball or board games, we are extremely competitive,” San Diego said.
Broderick’s recruitment process is different from most coaches. He focuses on recruiting someone for their character before focusing on how they play. With a goal to recruit people who “hate to lose more than they like to win,” the team’s competitive nature may not be such a coincidence.
8. They’re Good Students It may not surprise you that these players are excellent students due to their competitive nature. With a team GPA over a 3.0 the CNU women’s basketball team dominates in academics. According to coach Broderick, it is difficult to play basketball well when the player's mind is stressed about school and grades.
Rader described the team dynamic as “relentless,” which she believes is evident in the classroom. With resources such as group tutoring, math lab, and a writing center to aid the players in academics, the relentless dynamic is clear.
Broderick acknowledged that the help of other staff was also responsible for the team's success. In addition to the resources the team has an excellent academic advisor.
9. Team Effort “Every once in a while someone has a bad game and someone has to step up,” Rader said. It’s a whole team effort and everyone is aware of it.
The team played at a fast pace and they did not cut corners. When someone was injured, they faced the adversity by trying even harder. The team was selfless, and despite growing up in a self-centered society where everyone wants to be the star player, the players focus their attention on working as a team.
10. One Day At A Time
Many of the players describe the success of this season as extremely gratifying, emphasizing they do not take it for granted. They love to spend time with each other and the ability to do so while competing in basketball was just a plus.
“I don’t think we’ve ever come in with the goal of being undefeated, but I think we try to come in and take it one day at a time,” San Diego said.
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