In the official preseason rankings that were recently released by D3hoops.com, the women’s basketball team was ranked 13th overall in Division III and second in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), behind only Tufts University. In 2019, the last time the team played a full season, it was ranked third in the NESCAC with a 27-2 record and was one of the favorites to win the Division III National Championship. Had COVID-19 restrictions not forced the cancellation of the playoffs, the Polar Bears would have hosted the first tournament game and fought for a national title.
This season, however, COVID-19 vaccinations have been administered to all players, coaches and staff, and some sense of normalcy has been restored. The Polar Bears will return to the court for an uninterrupted winter season, seeking a national championship with the leadership of new Head Coach Sacha Santimano.
With her fresh perspective, Santimano hopes to excite and re-develop a team on which many athletes have never played in a collegiate basketball game.
“With every new year comes a new team with a new identity as well,” Santimano wrote in an email to the Orient. “The ladies who are part of the 2019-20 season were crushed to have their season cut short. But this team is relatively new, as more than half the team hasn’t experienced Bowdoin basketball. We plan to take it one day at a time.”
The players are equally excited to work with Santimano, crediting her energy and dedication to the game.
“She’s serious, she’s intense and she has a mission… she brings a lot of fire to each practice,” said captain Annie Boasberg ’22. “We have [a mission] too, so I think [her mentality] matches [ours] really well.”
However, the commencement of the team’s season has not come without a slew of unforeseen challenges. During its pre-season, after a nearly two year hiatus from playing competitive basketball, some of the team’s best players fell victim to injury.
Despite these challenges, the players are trusting the recovery process and are confident that the team will return to full strength soon.
“Right now, people are recovering pretty well from their injuries. We had a lot [of injuries] during pre-season, but everybody has taken the steps they needed to take to be ready to practice,” Tatum Angotti ’23 said. “We have just been taking care of our bodies and doing the extra things off the court that we need to.”
Boasberg echoed Angotti’s sentiments regarding the team’s ever-improving strength, crediting the College’s athletic training department for the recovery efforts of injured players.
“Our athletic trainer has been working wonders every day to help [the team],” Boasberg said. “Half of the team’s injured players have now recovered.”
With injuries on the mend, the players are entering the season with the same tenacity that they boasted during the 2019-2020 season.
Megan Tan ’23 outlined the team’s goals clearly.
“The aspirations that you can really count for are a NESCAC Championship and a national championship,” Tan said.
Shayla Eubanks ’23 shared Tran’s determination and ambition regarding the team’s return to a full competition schedule.
“We’re still bringing the same fire, the same edge and the same aspirations to be the best team we can be,” Eubanks said.
As competitions approach, the team is excited to return to the court and to enjoy the energy of their faithful fans once again.
“[Competitions] are so exciting, and it’s just so great to have the atmosphere that we’ve had in the past in which everyone’s there and present and cheering loudly,” Tan said. “We definitely feed off that energy.”
On November 13, the team will begin its season by facing off against Nazareth College at the University of New England (UNE) Tip-Off Tournament.