There is an aura in the air. A magic that glows. An electricity that glistens. An energy that vibrates. Their time has come. No more games to build momentum. No more trying to see what works. It’s time to get down and dirty. It’s time to get serious. It’s time to dance. It’s time for the ballers to rise. It’s time for the playoffs!Approximately a month and a half ago, 13 of West Chester University’s finest student athletes began the long and arduous journey known as the college basketball conference season. They donned the colors of purple and gold and represented a campus. It began with a victory over Kutztown. Eight more wins and only three loses later the slate is wiped clean because basketball’s second season has arrived. The Lady Rams basketball team has completed their second consecutive 9-3 PSAC East season. The number two seed they have earned has promised them a home playoff game.
Fifteen minutes down the road, the Cheyney University Lady Wolves are preparing an invasion. On Tuesday, March 4, they plan to take Hollinger Field House by storm and pull off a huge upset. But the Lady Rams have other ideas, I promise you that.
Watching the heart the Lady Rams possess game in and game out is truly inspiring. You do not survive injuries, shake up lineups, and still clinch second place if the bond of a team is not glued tightly together. It takes more than a team to get through the tough times and make the future better. It takes a family. And a family is the most dangerous weapon in sports. In basketball, if you can pass the ball to your family members on the court, you are heading for something special. The Lady Rams are a family and they know the power of working together as a collective unit.
Normally senior day is set up to be the last home game of the season for the players who are finishing up their collegiate careers. But because of the incredible play from the entire team, three senior Lady Rams have been promised their show will go on further than that. But one will be different than the other two.
Katie Kline, a notable basketball player defines a true college athlete. A foot injury that would not heal kept Kline out of the lineup for months. And even though she will not be playing in the playoffs, she got to suit up and play one last time on senior day.
Allowing Kline to play the game she loves one last time with the family she has bonded with is a true testament and wonderful gesture to the incredible person she is. Sticking by her teammates through 12 tough weeks on the sideline, Kline’s knowledge of the game will be invaluable in the Lady Rams quest for a PSAC Championship.
Kline is grateful for everything that her teammates did to help her through an injury riddled season but she truly believes the team is capable of great things.
“I love all of them and I really appreciate all of the support they’ve given me throughout the season. I think that we can really make a run in playoffs,” Kline said.
Amanda Vitzakovitch and Catherine Andrews will be playing on the court in Hollinger Field House one last time. They hope that their last game at Hollinger is not their last collegiate basketball game. A win against Cheyney on Tuesday and the Lady Rams get to go to the top remaining seed in the PSAC West for the PSAC Final Four.
Vitzakovitch and Andrew’s mentality will be unparalleled but their on court abilities will be what truly makes a difference in helping to determine just how far the Lady Rams will go. They both can shoot, they both can lead, and they both are always high energy and never give up.
For Andrews, the captain of the team and the glue that has kept them together, her presence this year will affect both the next season and beyond. She has passed her leadership skills and love for the game on to future Lady Rams.
While it will be tough to ever see another player as high-octane as Vitzakovitch, her friendly personality and constant support and love for her teammates will last long after she graduates. She has passed on an energy and love for the game that will be remembered eternally in this program.
While these three seniors will be missed greatly in the future for many reasons, the foundation for the team’s future is set and what better way to set it up than some playoff experience.
Let me just give you a brief rundown of the names that will return because come Tuesday night, they will be household names, if they are not already: Dana Weems, Natalie Winters, Janelle Garber, Megan Stewart, Lindsay Weller, Renata Neal, MaryKate Seratelli, Bridget Carlin, Katie Hirschler, Dominique Adams, Lauren Commadari and Sydney Daviston-Atkins.
Another player who deserves mentioning, even though she was red shirted and did not play this year is Alison Hostetter. A guard who will be a red shirt freshman, Hostetter brings tenacity and skill to the position and is going to be another weapon for head coach Deirdre Kane to utilize.
These players are the future of Lady Rams basketball. But combined with the seniors, the playoffs are here and everyone is expecting a deep playoff run. A first round knockout from a year ago at the hands of the Millesrville Lady Marauders is still fresh in the minds of the Lady Rams. But this year they are prepared to do what it takes to avoid a similar fate this year.
With the crowds growing larger and larger by the game, one more packed Hollinger Field House is necessary. The players are ready for the playoffs to begin. After a week of games that had no real effect on the standings, the anticipation is over and the fun is two days away.
The most important thing to remember when heading into the playoffs is that the regular season statistics do not matter. A loss at Cheyney’s Cope Hall and a dominating victory in West Chester over the Lady Wolves are irrelevant because this time its win or go home until next season. The Lady Rams have earned a playoff berth and home court advantage in round one. They want to win. And they want you there with them.
Come Tuesday night, the talking ends and the playing begins. It’s time to lay it all on the line and leave nothing on the court. The Lady Rams will do just that. They want a sea of purple flooding Hollinger Field House. They want to let the PSAC take notice that they will contend for a conference title.
As the peers who support these girls, it is time to protect our house. For one more time this season, ladies and gentlemen, enter Hollinger Field House to support Lady Rams basketball. And when you arrive, make sure the Cheyney Lady Wolves remember this night, as the night when the purple and gold said as one they believe in the Lady Rams. Gather all your purple. Gather all your gold. And together, let’s hoist the colors!
Mike Heiman is a third-year student majoring in Elementary Education with a minor in literacy. He can be reached at MH606613@wcupa.edu.