Nick McAdam, Tangerine Clerk
The Utica Pioneers women’s basketball team doesn’t hit the court until Nov. 13 when they host SUNY Potsdam, but the squad is already making strides toward the start of their season.
On Sept. 12, the Pioneers joined the Utica police and fire department, along with Utica Mayor Robert M. Palmieri, to clean nearly 200 miles worth of shrubs and waste. This marks the second time Utica has participated in the Quality of Life Sweep.
The goals of the clean-up is to not only do what’s already indicated in the title, but to also identify problems within the community.
The Utica Pioneers addressed these problems as a team. While improving the general conditions of the streets throughout the Utica community, several other high-notes for the team came to the surface.
Sophomore guard Brigid Johndrow especially noticed differences in how an experience such as this can transition onto the court.
“Personally, I found it to be a really good thing to do, getting out in Utica and cleaning up trash and making the streets and areas people live clean. It was a really good thing to do and even though it isn’t the cleanest or most fun thing to do it’s doing something good for others. There was bonding with the team,” Johndrow said.
A volunteering experience that couldn’t be done without the team; a theme commonly noted by Johndrow and the rest of the Pioneers. The supporting of the community of Utica has come from the reliance of each individual player for Utica in order to make a team.
“A team will always play better and get more done than one person. Also, just being around each other doing good and getting to know each other more helps a ton,” Johndrow said. “It’s always a good feeling knowing we did something to help others. It could be something our team can attribute, it’s all about teamwork and working together as one.”
The recent efforts made by the Pioneers comes a season after finishing 9-16 overall, while notching a 5-11 in Empire 8 play toward the end of the season. However, the strength from the community pushed Utica to a 7-6 home record compared to their 2-10 away total; one of the biggest takeaways from last season.
As the Pioneers look to give back to the community in return for their positive home record last season, Michele Davis’ team will be hoping for more of the same this year. The women’s team holds two five-game homestands this season; one of which starts on Nov. 20 against Oneonta, and the other date with St. John Fisher College in January.
A fresh start will also be given to Johndrow, as the psych child life major finished with an impressive 91 rebounds and 116 points in her first-year at Utica College. This all goes without mentioning the importance of players such as Johndrow as UC is heading into this season with a total of seven juniors and seniors with no recruited first-year players.
To put that into even more perspective, the Pioneers will be running with four players that are available to play another two seasons.
Yet, the team looks to be taking it one step at a time this season. Tradition starts with a helping hand in the community for the Pioneers, and hopefully ends with trophies for the team as well.
“Something like this affects the team going forward because we all worked together to do something good and it shows like as a team we can get a lot done and do a lot of good,” Johndrow said.