By Andrew Smith
The women’s basketball season is well underway and the team is playing hard every night on the court. Madison Graham, a junior sports management major, is playing a crucial role on the team, leading them through a long and challenging season.
Graham has been a member of the team since her freshman year and credited her family for contributing to her success as a collegiate athlete. “My family has played a huge role in my career. Growing up, my older cousins all played and basketball was a big sport in my family so I naturally grew a love for it,” she said.
Graham highlighted the role her father played in her love for the game of basketball. “My dad also played basketball when he was younger, so it was always something we could do or talk about together. My family members are my biggest supporters and I wouldn’t be in this position without them.”
In addition to her family, Graham said there are professional athletes who she has looked up to as role models, emphasizing the importance of Diana Tuarasi in her athletic life and development. Tuarasi played Division I basketball at the University of Connecticut and is now a member of the WNBA team Phoenix Mercury and the all-time leading scorer in WNBA history who also led the United States to five gold medals in the Olympics.
Graham reflected on the time she has spent on the Panther team so far and what memories still remain with her today. “There are a lot of moments that come to mind but I would say my favorite team memories are all the moments in the locker room after a great win or bus rides to and from away games,” she said. “These are the moments we all get to really connect and make everything worth it.”
Graham also shared her thoughts on the current season and how the team is performing. “I think this team is really special and we can really make a run this year. We have had our ups and downs, but the season is still young and the greatest teams are the ones that can overcome adversity together,” she said. “We have a great coaching staff and a great group of girls, so I’m really excited to see what the rest of the season has in store for us.”
The importance of in-season conditioning also plays a role during a long winter season, which is from mid-October to March. Graham said the players practice Monday-Saturday from 7-9 am and lift Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9-10 right after practice.
“With games this schedule changes a little every week,” she said. “On game days we will shoot around that morning and we usually don’t practice the day after games to give our bodies the appropriate rest.”
Graham added, “In-season training and conditioning is different from off-season in the sense that most practices are spent playing against our scout team so we can practice against the opposing teams' plays. Conditioning is usually a little lighter to keep wear and tear on our bodies to a minimum. But most conditioning is mixed into full court drills at practice and through our strength and conditioning coach, Keith Ferrara.”
Madison Graham and the women’s basketball team is continuing to put in the hard work on and off the court in order to compete for a championship. The team is poised to go on a strong run during the winter.