The Fresno State Women’s Basketball team offers more than just shooting hoops. It provides education, long-standing tradition, rich history and most importantly, Bulldog pride.
“I think Fresno State is a special place,” said head coach Jaime White.
White joined Fresno State two years ago. She has more than 20 years of experience coaching in Division I basketball, including at colleges like University of Wyoming and University of Northern Colorado.
White was attracted to the fans and support the Bulldogs receive.
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“We have really great fans and we have really great support,” White said. “We have a long history of winning and winning at a high level and I think all those things are things that attracted me to the program.”
Halfway through the 2015 season, the team is still coming together.
“We have seven new kids and we are trying to figure out how they fit in the system,” White said. “Even our kids that returned from last year haven’t necessarily played a bunch together so it’s kind of a rebuilding process, but we’ve been in every game.”
The team started preparing for the season on July 1. Teammates practiced together for about six weeks and then were sent home for a two-week break. Practice resumed for the team in mid-August when they returned for school.
The team spends about 20 hours per week training, which includes weight lifting, film watching, conditioning and practice.
“We spend probably more time together than we do with our own families,” said assistant coach Mandi Carver. “You work so closely together and you’re around each other so much it’s like a family environment.”
The team has good chemistry both on and off the court, White said.
We spend probably more time together than we do with our own families. You work so closely together and you’re around each other so much it’s like a family environment.
Assistant Coach Mandi Carver
On game day, the team meets at the gym with coaches to go over the plan. Next, the teammates eat breakfast or lunch together before going home to get focused for the game.
Shooting guard Alex Furr said she’s the only one who stays at the gym until the game..
“I meditate and read some motivational things,” Furr said. “Coach tells me I need to go home and I need to get away, but I feel like I need to be there. I need to be focused.”
Furr moved from Texas to join the Bulldogs for the 2010-2011 season. After graduation from the sports psychology graduate program this year, Furr will end her six years with the team.
“It’s sad but I’m just trying to enjoy every moment,” Furr said. “I’m looking forward to the future because I’ve been here for a really long time so I know it’s time for me to move on.”
Furr fell in love with Fresno State after a visit to meet the coaches and the players.
“I had other visits lined up and then I canceled them,” Furr said. “It was my first visit and I said this is where I want to be. It feels like home.”
Furr has been in love with the game from day one.
“I was basically born with a basketball in my hand,” Furr said.
Her passion for basketball comes from her love of competition.
“I just love competing in everything I do,” Furr said. “I even compete in the classroom. It’s just another form of competition for me.”
So how do the teammtes manage to devote so much time and energy to basketball, yet still manage to keep up with school?
“We have two people on our staff committed to academics and one person in the student athletic academic area committed to our team,” White said. “That person gets tutors, study halls and tracks them academically. They motivate them and help them understand how important it is.”
Even when traveling, school isn’t forgotten.
“They make us do study table while we are on the road,” Furr said. “So our coaches are very mindful that we need to be focused on our studies.”
Intensity is certainly a necessity for success on the court, but focusing that intensity is always a challenge for the coaches.
“I think the biggest thing is to not go overboard,” White said. “Stay calm under certain situations and continue to move forward.”
20 Hours per week the team spends training, which includes weight lifting, film watching, conditioning and practice.
For Carver, all the time and hard work is worth it when she’s standing on the sidelines during the games watching it all come together.
“It’s so rewarding to see when something clicks for them and how basketball can really do so many things,” Carver said. “I mean these girls get an education, they bring a community together, they get the opportunity to travel the country and promote Fresno State so all of those things, the pride of that, is really rewarding.”
For Furr, one of her favorite things about playing is seeing and talking with young girls who come to watch her games, knowing they look up to her and what she stands for.
“I just really want to be a good role model because I know when I was little I would go to a lot of basketball games and there were a lot of players I looked up to,” Furr said.
Carver described the Fresno State Women’s Basketball team as offering three things: commitment, character and competition.
“We are committed to the classroom and getting better every day in basketball,” Carver said. “We have character, so we do everything with high character whether it be through our work ethic or through our community outreach, and then we’re competitive. Every day we get out there and compete in practice and we like to bring that competitiveness to the games and have the fans experience that.”