Women’s Basketball: A Profile in Dedication and Excellence

The coaches and players of Mitty’s Varsity Women’s Basketball Team share (some) of the secrets to their dominance.

Women%E2%80%99s+Basketball%3A+A+Profile+in+Dedication+and+Excellence

Mitty Women’s Basketball has a legendary legacy. This year they are ranked nationally in the top 15, and again this year they are favored in postseason play. They’ve already captured another CCS title and are moving into NorCals with a state title as the eventual goal.

Foundational for any great sports program is excellence in coaching. In her decades of coaching women’s basketball at Mitty, Head Coach Sue Phillips (’86) has imparted court skills that translate to life skills. Key amongst these is the ability to respond positively to adversity.  “Knowing that our goal is to respond to adversity, this is something as a coaching staff we build in with pockets of chaos in practice,” say Coach Phillips, “whether it’s playing with disadvantaged offense, disadvantaged defense, whether the ball is underinflated, whether we decide we’re gonna be tick tacky with the calls.” According to Coach Phillips, t’s about cultivating mental agility and developing the ability to bounce back and keep moving forward, also referred to as the “next play” mentality.

Knowing that our goal is to respond to adversity, this is something as a coaching staff we build in with pockets of chaos in practice, whether it’s playing with disadvantaged offense, disadvantaged defense, whether the ball is underinflated, whether we decide we’re gonna be tick tacky with the calls”

— Head Coach Sue Phillips

Another tactic is to foster a growth mindset. Enter “mind candy,” a term she borrowed from Don Showalter, a men’s USA Basketball coach, that refers to catch phrases or quotes she gives the team before practice and games to instill bite-sized goals and emphasize areas of performance focus. Coach Phillips’ varsity assistant coach, Tamara Monson, a former Mitty player and former Mitty Dean, who has been involved in coaching on and off for fifteen years, returned to coaching this year. She is a proven asset. Her intimate knowledge of Coach Phillips’ style and expectations facilitates her ability to translate those high standards to players and help them navigate the process. Per Coach Monson, the work ethic demands have not changed over the years: “the standard is the standard,” and that’s been integral to the program’s success.

Great coaches attract great players. This year Mitty’s stellar women’s basketball lineup has added freshman starting center McKenna Woliczko, referred to by many as a freshman phenom. According to Woliczko, her 45 minute commute to school is a worthy sacrifice, explaining that whether it’s boxing out techniques on defense or expanding her offensive shooting, “Every day I know I’m gonna learn something from Coach Phillips, whether it’s as a person or as a player.”

Her teammates, sophomore Jordan Bowar and senior April Chan echo these sentiments. Bowar made the jump from the freshman team last year to varsity this year, which has a much faster pace and greater demands. She has stepped up, seeing the value of “going hard” every practice and taking risks, trusting that “Coach has a plan for us.” Chan, the starting point guard, points out another feature of Coach Phillips’ techniques, citing the coach’s distinctive voice and unique piercing whistle as instruments helpful to her in maintaining focus on the court and running the myriad sets of the Mitty offense. Impressively, Chan has managed to balance a rigorous course load with the demands of varsity play, a feat that has garnered her acceptance to MIT where she’ll be playing D3 basketball. When asked what advice she has for other student athletes who may be contemplating taking a rigorous course load, she says do your research and “just go for it…bet on yourself” (and remember there is an add drop period!). Above all, she says “the most important thing is to not be scared…and put your mind to it….It’s just like Coach Phillips’ training, it’s hard but it pushes you to get better.”

With an experienced, well versed coaching staff and dedicated, talented players, our Monarch ballers were crossin’ up opponents left and right in the CCS Open Division playoffs.  The Monarchs won each of their three pool play matches and, in all three games combined, outscored their opponents by a staggering total of 256-81. Showcasing their unparalleled dominance, the team won by a margin of over 50 points in each pool play match.

Image

With the “next play” mentality in mind, the team showed poise and remained unhampered by any obstacles standing in their way. On February 25, the Monarchs faced Pinewood in the CCS Open Division championship game at Santa Clara University’s Leavey Center. Mitty dominated on the offensive glass, outrebounding Pinewood 34-12. With their eyes on the prize, the Monarchs kept the pedal to the metal by utilizing a fervent full court press to generate Pinewood turnovers and feed their prolific offense. Junior Morgan Cheli contributed eighteen points, bouncing back strong after a knee injury earlier in the season. Woliczko led the team with 22 points. With this commanding performance, the Monarchs marched to a 74-51 victory, becoming the 2023 CCS Open Division Champions.

With this being Mitty’s 7th CCS title in eight seasons, the team has no doubt continued to maintain “the standard” and add to the program’s legendary legacy.