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The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
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By Aidan Kasner, Sports Editor • May 23, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

Pitt’s club women’s basketball team demonstrates student athletes’ dedication to the sport they love

Pitt+Club+Women%E2%80%99s+Basketball+team+stands+for+a+photo+while+attending+the+NIRSA+Championship+Series+in+February.
Courtesy of Club Women’s Basketball
Pitt Club Women’s Basketball team stands for a photo while attending the NIRSA Championship Series in February.

After taking a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students on the Pitt club women’s basketball team have dedicated substantial hours to rebuilding up the program. The 2023-24 season is a testament to the club’s hard work to make the program competitive again. 

Co-president Aly Stauffer, a sophomore industrial engineering major, joined the team during her first year at Pitt, with this year being her first as a president. As she played basketball throughout high school, Aly is grateful for the opportunity to continue to play.

“I love this program so much,” Stauffer said. “I didn’t think I’d be able to continue to play basketball in college. So this means a lot.”

Pitt Club Women’s Basketball competes in the NIRSA Championship Series in February. (Courtesy of Club Women’s Basketball)

The club team’s dedication to the sport is reflected in the player’s time commitments as well. Practices run late — two days a week from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Players give up a lot of their weekends as well, all because they love basketball and want to keep playing. 

Not only are Stauffer and her co-president Joey Isenberg, a sophomore neuroscience major, grateful to keep playing, but they also dedicate 15 to 20 hours a week to administrative tasks alone. They take care of everything from uniforms to travel arrangements to running events. In addition to their presidential duties, the team has to juggle finances to make competing possible as well.

“We’re super lucky to have people on the team running social media and fundraising for us,” Isenberg said. “We’re completely student-run and almost completely ‘us’ funded. We are very reliant on dues and fundraising.”

This year, for the first time, the team joined the National Club Basketball Association (NCBBA) and were placed in the Great Lakes East Conference. The conference includes club teams at Ohio University, West Virginia, Dayton and Ohio State. The NCBBA gave the club opportunities to travel to tournaments to compete against these schools. 

The team’s highlight of the season so far was a trip to Boston in February to play in the NIRSA tournament. Their head coach, Evan Calhoun, was proud of his team’s performance at the NIRSA tournament. Calhoun is a junior and a global health major. He started his involvement with the program as an assistant coach last year after always seeing the team in Trees Hall. Eventually, he was offered the job as assistant coach and was promoted to head coach this year.

Calhoun credits the club’s closeness to the tournament at Boston College.

Pitt Club Women’s Basketball players stand with Boston College players after finishing second in the NIRSA Championship Series in February. (Courtesy of Club Women’s Basketball)

“Boston was a really cool trip,” Calhoun said. “Being able to fly all together as a team and have that bonding experience with a group of people. But the thing that sticks with me the most is just how close we grew as a team, not even just on that trip, but throughout the whole year.”

They competed in region one at Boston College and came in second to the 2022 National Champions. The team acknowledged the hectic challenges of traveling and organizing flights for 12 people, but their performance made it all worth it. 

“It was a huge organizational feat that [Aly and I] were both really proud of,” Isenberg said. “But it was a lot of work. And then the team really showed up and showed out with really good basketball.”

The club closed out its season last Saturday in a doubleheader against Ohio State. Ohio State is ranked No. 1 in the Great Lakes East Conference and proved a formidable adversary. After trailing behind the entirety of the first game, Pitt came back for the second game and tested its competitors. 

Pitt held the lead for most of the first half. It started with senior Audrey Bryce extending Pitt’s lead out of the gate with six straight. Ohio State gained momentum but Pitt kept the lead at half 25-23. Junior Abbi Nassivera had a knack for drawing charges in the second game as well. They drew three in the first half alone, and their team capitalized on those possessions. 

Early in the second half, Pitt gained a ten-point advantage over the Buckeyes. As the period went on, Ohio State managed to cut down the deficit and the lead went back and forth. With less than two minutes remaining in the half, Ohio State led 48-55, and Pitt ran out of time to recover. Despite the loss, Pitt was really happy with their performance in the second game. 

“They’re a really good team,” Stauffer said. “I’m proud of us for playing with them. It was a competitive game and it was a close game. It was fun to play.”

Pitt’s club women’s basketball team worked hard this season to build up the program, and its performance this year is a precursor for years to come. The team will continue to work towards their goal of competing at the Collegiate Nationals in the future. 

“We had a great first season in the NCBBA with the highlight being playing in Boston,” Stauffer said. “We hope to go to regionals and possibly nationals next year.”

About the Contributor
Sara Meyer, Staff Writer
Sara Meyer is a staff writer for the sports desk at The Pitt News. She is a part of the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences class of 2026 and is double majoring in LCJS and politics and philosophy with a minor in economics. This is her second year writing for the sports desk as a staff writer.