Cabrini women’s basketball team spent their Thanksgiving break in Southern California enjoying the sun and competing in the David Wells Classic. The team was in the Golden State from Nov. 23 to Nov. 28, where they played against Pomona-Pitzer University and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps College.
Head coach, Kate Pearson, decided to schedule the games out west due to a gap in the team’s non-conference schedule. “We didn’t have a game from Nov. 23 to Dec. 5, so we threw this in to get some more competition,” Pearson said. “We are usually home for Thanksgiving, and having the short break anyway, we thought we might as well do it in a nicer place.”
The last time the Cavaliers made a big trip for games was during the 2018-19 season when they competed in the Las Vegas Hoopla during winter break. Pearson calls these events, “special trips,” and notes how no current players have experienced one of these trips.
“They were all excited for the opportunity to travel,” Pearson said. “For our senior class especially, they had never been on a trip like this and that was part of the reason why we wanted to schedule a special trip. For some players, this was their first time on a plane. This opportunity to travel out west gave them a worthwhile experience.”
Pearson was very intentional when scheduling these games in California. The team, still early into their 2022-23 campaign, was given crucial time to connect and build chemistry both on and off the court.
“The reason you do these kinds of trips is for the experience of going away together,” Pearson said. “We hope that the memories you make staying in a hotel, taking a plane ride, and going to dinner together all help to get the girls learning some new stuff about each other that they wouldn’t in our regular routine on campus.”
Coming together as a group
“When we got there, the van rides were so much fun because we all got to pack in together and blast music,” Katie Rodriguez, junior forward, said. “The hotel was definitely the best part. I brought a Nintendo Switch, so we spent a lot of time playing with that as a group.”
The team had a lot of down time to explore the Los Angeles area, with its breathtaking beaches and mountain views. A highlight of their adventures was an early morning hike to see the Hollywood sign, which had some players more excited than others.
“Some of [the players] were rolling their eyes about hiking so early in the morning,” Pearson said. “But once we got up there and they saw the views, everyone realized the real reason we ended up doing it.”
Although planned events are always a good time, it was a spur-of-the-moment decision that made for one of the best memories of the weekend. While traveling around the city, Pearson decided to take the team to the University of California Los Angeles and get tickets to watch their men’s basketball team take on Bellarmine University.
“That was an audible we decided to do at the last minute,” Pearson said. “We got to go around the Pauley Pavilion, and as a basketball coach, getting to see the history with John Wooden was very cool. We got courtside seats to the game, the girls got on the Jumbotron, and Miranda [Liebtag] caught a T-shirt. All of that was great and made for moments we will all remember.”
Setting up for success
The main event for the team was their two matchups in the David Wells Classic on Nov. 25 and 26. Unfortunately, Cabrini dropped both of the games, falling 67-57 to Pomona-Pitzer and 74-58 to Claremont-M-S.
While the games didn’t fall in their favor, Pearson noted the Cavaliers made big improvements in the second game that showed signs this young team is gaining momentum.
“We felt some frustrations during the first game internally,” Pearson said. “But we talked about it as a group and then in the next game, while we were still struggling on offense, the loss felt like we were coming together more.”
The Cavs certainly battled hard on the court. But through the experience of traveling together, the coaching staff hopes the team will continue to unite as they work through their non-conference schedule.
“The week definitely brought us a little closer together,” Rodriguez said. “There’s only eight of us, so it’s not too hard to get to know each other, but it was a fun experience and we were able to bond a little more from it.”
“In all of our games, we are right there but have to find a way to take the turn,” Pearson said. “I hope that some of the experiences that we had together bonding as a group helps us take that turn and continue to play for each other.”