Women’s Basketball Dominates Season Thus Far


Photo by LucasDraper

Second-year Gina Lombard competes against Muskingum University on Nov. 23.

With six wins under their belt, the Oberlin women’s basketball team has broken school records, starting the season 6–0 and 1–0 in conference play. It is no accident that the season is off to a fantastic start; the team has worked tirelessly to build a competitive and supportive atmosphere since their last competitive season in 2019-2020. Before the season began, the women’s basketball team was expected to be fifth in the conference, an expectation they have surpassed as they are now seeded second. 

“It feels great having that record, it is more than we could ever hope for,” wrote second-year Alyson Jefferson, a member of the team, in an email to the Review. “We were picked to be number five in the conference, and we are beating those odds, which is amazing for us.” 

Head Women’s Basketball Coach Stephany Dunmyer attributes some of the success to the team’s sense of purpose. When the team competed against Alma College on Nov. 9, it had been 623 days since the Yeowomen had been in competition.

Dunmyer says that the team’s preparation and mindset last year was a little different without competitive games, but its sense of purpose was the same: to push our team culture forward and to be a truly connected group on and off the court.

“This season, we have focused on a lot of the same things, but our practices have been centered around team strategies and play and not as much on individual reps and skill development,” she wrote in an email to the Review. “With games in the mix, we also place a big emphasis on learning and preparing by watching film — both on our team and our opponents during scouting reports.”

The team currently composed has several underclassmen as part of the starting lineup. For first-year and starter Bry Woodard, preparation began even before she was an inseason collegiate athlete with players focusing on how to come together as a young team.

“Preparation was crucial this season even before we stepped foot on campus,” she wrote in an email to the Review. “Once we got here, our practices were learning-focused as we were a team of mostly underclassmen so it was a lot of teaching and learning. Our mindset going in was to work. Still, to this day our goal is to simply outwork whoever our opponent is for the time that we are playing.” 

For more than half the team, this is their first collegiate season of basketball, making the team’s success even more impressive. For Woodard, the transition to collegiate athletics was not difficult because of the support she received from her teammates. She fondly remembers her first pickup game with the team.

“The transition from high school ball to college ball was not bad thanks to my teammates,” Woodard wrote. “I will never forget the first time we all played a pickup game. It was only like the third day we had been on campus and we met in the gym, no coaches, no fans, just us. We shot for teams and for two hours straight just played basketball. I remember calling my dad and telling him how excited I was because we were already gelling and we hadn’t even started practice yet.”

Even before the season started, the team was practicing four to five times a week. College second-year and starter on the team Gina Lombard also felt prepared for the season because of the intensity and seriousness of practices. Despite having only played six collegiate games, she was named Named NCAC Player of the Week and was one of five players from across the nation to earn D3hoops.com Team of the Week laurels. 

“This season we’ve pushed each other every day, and we’re playing at a college level in practice every day,” Lombard said in an interview with the Review. “The pace is definitely faster in college games but I was definitely prepared. 

College fourth-year Sammy Spanier added that the team’s on-court connection was translated off the court, even when the team was separated because of the College’s trimester plan. 

“Our team has had Zoom meetings consistently to help us connect over the [COVID-19] pandemic because not everyone was on campus at the same time last year,” Spanier wrote in an email to the Review. “Our preparation not only focused on connection but it focused on on-court improvement as well. I think we looked at the [COVID-19] pandemic not as time off, but as a unique opportunity to take advantage of and give ourselves an upper hand against our opponents.”

Looking to the rest of the season, the team is focused on continuing to become even better as players and team. 

“Our main goal moving forward is to continue to get better every day in order to be the best team we can be by the end of the season,” wrote Spanier. “There are always things we can improve on and we’re making sure that we are focusing on those things within our practices each and every day. We are committed to the process and focused on our growth as a group.”

Woodard asserted that the team wants each game to be an improvement. 

“We want to make sure that we don’t settle and push ourselves to keep getting better. We want each game and practice to be better than the previous one,” she wrote.

Dunmyer acknowledged that the road to success will not be easy, but the team’s ultimate goal is to compete for a North Coast Athletic Conference championship. 

“We want to continue to push our team culture forward, focus on getting better and on being great teammates every day, and continue to do our best to control what we can control,” Dunmyer wrote. “Basketball season is a long one, and we know there will be bumps along the way. How we respond to adversity and how resilient we are will be determining factors in whether or not we are playing our best basketball at the right time of the year (tournament time). Ultimately, we want to continue to grow as a team and put ourselves in a position to compete for an NCAC championship.”