The fast and furious

The life of a Union College Warrior

Derek Baker

Volleyball season is now a thing of the past, but warrior basketball is on the cusp of starting their 2014-2015 campaign. I caught up with some of the players this past week to talk about their expectations for this coming season.

Every team has certain characteristics. Some teams are known for their physicality while others are known for their speed or finesse. I asked freshmen Ryan Rushold about the characteristics of this year’s team.

“We are young, fast and confident,” says Rushold. “We don't have the most experienced team or height, but we have many players that have a lot of speed and confidence in each other. We know that everyone was chosen for this team for a specific reason and that if we play together we can be successful.”

When asked if fear motivates him, Rushold said, “Fear does motivate me to an extent only because I don't want to let those around me down, but when I concentrate on not failing, failure is what usually happens. The competition and love of the game is what fuels my drive to keep playing basketball.”

Paris Ritter is a sophomore health and human performance major. When asked about the strengths of this year’s team, he replied, “Everyone on the team is really dedicated and we all have a passion for playing the game of basketball. Something that I think will really work to our advantage this year is that we are a really fast and conditioned team.”

“No one on the team is selfish,” Ritter says. “We all understand that basketball is a team game and we all need to work together in order to win and have a great season.”

Jimmy Gilley, a freshman business administration major, commented on the differences between high school basketball expectations and practices and college practices and expectations: “High school practices were not nearly as intense,” he said. “You learned the offense/defense and went through drills and they expected you to get it, but in college everything is so much faster.”

CJ Middlebrooks, a junior biomedical science major, responded to the same question saying, “During collegiate practice we do more running than I ever did in high school. We run more game-related drills than in high school, and the intensity level of the guys during practice is high. I don’t remember any of our high school practices being as intense or as high-paced as the Warriors practices.”

No team would be complete without their captain, and this year’s captain is senior health and human performance major Drew Mekelburg. When asked what it meant to be a captain, Mekelburg said, “Being the captain of the team means I have to set the tone for every practice, every game, and how to act off the court as well. I am also in constant communication with the coaches figuring out how we can make our team better and deciding what is working well and what may not be working so well and I will always have my teammate’s backs and support them no matter what.”

Union competes against other schools and teams that have scholarship athletes. Mekelburg responds to this, saying, “Playing against scholarship players can be a little intimidating, but at the same time it means we get to play with nothing to lose.”

“Every game we are going to come out as the underdog and that leaves a chip on our shoulders and we will play with something to prove,” Mekelburg continues. “I think it is something we as a team have embraced and we use it to motivate and push ourselves.”

Hungry to play, hungry to compete and hungry for the win, this year’s team is young and fast. Be sure to catch them in the Thuderdome this year.

Derek is senior studying business sport management.