WIU women’s basketball begins practice for upcoming season

By RJ LARSON, Guest Reporter

MACOMB, Illinois (NEWS3) — The Western Illinois women’s basketball team has begun to practice in preparation for their 2020-2021 season.

Head coach JD Gravina says it has felt great to be able to reconnect with his players once again.

“It has been really nice to see my player. I just straight up missed them,” Gravina said. “They’re a big part of my life. My life is probably my family, number one, and my players, number two. I’ve been really missing out on that aspect, so it has been nice just to be able to talk to them, see them and give air high fives.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic, coaches across the nation have been forced to find ways to keep their players safe at practice, while still practicing at a level to prepare them for the season. 

The main precaution players have taken is wearing masks while at practice. Another is players are practicing in small pods together, rather than the whole team practicing together.

This arrangement has allowed the players to begin practicing again, but senior Sam Pryor hopes to play with all her teammates soon to better prepare for the season.

“So it’s been fun and nice, but my pod only has five people, so I would rather be practicing with my whole team now,” Pryor said. “I need to practice with Evan, I need to practice with Grace, I need to practice with Alissa. I want touches with everyone, and I’ve never played with Mallory, so I want to be able to scrimmage with everyone, and I want to see where I stand with everyone and how everyone works together.”

The NCAA has announced the college basketball season would officially begin Nov. 25. Although the start date has been announced, many questions are still unanswered. 

What will the schedule look like? What will travel be like? What safety protocols will be in place? Will fans be allowed to attend games?

Pryor says she would be devastated if fans couldn’t attend games inside Western Hall this season.

“The fans here are just so awesome, so supportive and they would give me their left leg if they could,” Pryor said. “I really miss seeing Ed and Sue Holzwarth, and to think that I never play in front of them again. I know it sounds narcissistic, but it’s really just that I could graduate and never see them again.”