For the past two years, Memorial Hall in the Life Sports Center has missed the hard squeak of a basketball shoe on its waxed floors, and so has the women’s basketball team. A month out from their first game, official practice started for the Mules on Friday, Oct. 15.
The team began unofficial practices before school started with lifting and pickup, alternating with conditioning every other week. As the season approaches, the team’s thoughts reflect the juniors’ and seniors’ thirst for collegiate competition, the underclassmen’s excitement at the opportunity to play out childhood dreams and the trust forged between teammates in this offseason.
When asked about returning to the competition, small forward Margaux Eripret ‘22 said, “[It] feels like it’s been a lot longer than it has, but I’m really excited.” The season is starting with nine incoming first-year students and three sophomores who have never seen a collegiate season. Eripret praises the new blood of the team, saying, “They’ve been really impressing us in pickup, and we’re really excited to see what they can bring.”
Additionally, the team has a strong core of juniors and seniors, setting an example for the underclassmen. “I think all of us have a learning curve making that jump from sophomores to seniors,” said shooting guard Mikaela McGarvey ‘22. “[I am] looking forward to [us] being seniors now. Obviously, when you’re underclassmen, you’re held to seniority, so it’s kinda fun being in charge.”
Undoubtedly inspired by her older teammates, shooting guard Rachel Saxton ‘25, entering with a 1,000 point high school career, says she’s “Really excited. Definitely coming off a year with the pandemic, I just want to play really hard. I want to win every game, even win the championship.”
Saxton’s own personal goal is “just to get some playing time.” She added, “We’re a group of athletic and competitive girls, and there are no other people I want to play with. I guess my goal for right now is to get time, show effort, and make an impact.”
The whole conference is made up of teams with incoming freshmen and sophomores who have never played collegiately as well as players like Eripret and McGarvey.
The possibilities for the Mules may be best reflected in the bond between teammates. After only a few months of unofficial practices, it seems that the season of 2021-2022 will be attacked by a cohesive group of selfless players.
When asked about personal goals, the Mules answer by talking about the incredible potential of their own teammates. Saxton (better known as “Bestie Ray” on the team), says that her primary goal is, “winning for the seniors who didn’t have a year last year and even the returning players. Just coming in, playing hard and doing it for them and our coaches and our school.”
This week the season officially started for the Mules. It’s a season that will feature 12 games at home, the home opener is on Nov. 16 against the DeSales University Bulldogs. This year, the team will play against their Centennial Conference opponents once at home and once away, with 21 conference games. This group of young talent and competition-thirsty upperclassmen will test their mettle against a conference that has kept Muhlenberg out of the NCAA tournament since 2016.
One thing is for sure— this team is motivated and hungry to win. The seniors are ready to take charge and realize the dreams that were stolen by the pandemic. The 12 first-years and sophomores are prepared to leave their mark on Muhlenberg’s history. The fans are ready to hear the echoes of their voices and the stomping Mule hooves on the wooden bleachers as the return of live basketball approaches. Most importantly, this team is ready to win together, for each other, the seniors and the school.
Eripret has long anticipated this return to competition. “It’s like a whole new league. The possibilities are endless.”