TCU women’s club basketball wins first at conference tournament

The+TCU+Women%E2%80%99s+Club+Basketball+Team+came+in+first+at+the+National+Intramural+and+Recreational+Sports+Association+%28NIRSA%29+Women%E2%80%99s+Southern+Conference+Tournament+on+Feb.+19-20.

The TCU Women’s Club Basketball Team came in first at the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) Women’s Southern Conference Tournament on Feb. 19-20.

By Alexis Berry

The TCU Women’s Club Basketball Team was not a team in 2020. Now, they are first in the Southern Conference.

The team came in first at the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) Women’s Southern Conference Tournament on Feb. 19-20.

“Going to our first tournament as the youngest school there and beating five other schools feels so good,” said team captain and senior Kynnedi Rone.

A graphic displaying the team’s victory at the NIRSA Women’s Southern Conference. (Graphic courtesy of the TCU Club Women’s Basketball team)

The team defeated opponents from Sam Houston State University, Oklahoma State University, Texas State University, Texas A&M University and Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas. 

The fall of 2021 was the first semester where the team could fully operate as a club sport due to university restrictions on club sports from COVID-19.

“We had our team, but there was a restriction on club sports, so we couldn’t travel,” Rone, a strategic communications major, said. “When you can’t travel, you can’t play games. When you can’t play games, you can’t charge dues– which means you can’t hold your student-athletes accountable.”

Last fall, the team participated in locally-organized tournaments that were put together by team leadership.  

The team was originally formed to foster a sense of equality in women’s athletics at TCU. 

Haley Lupkes, a first-year criminal justice student on the team, said she has grown in confidence and become empowered through the team environment she is a part of. 

“It’s sad to see in general how when you go to the Rec, there aren’t many girls there playing,” Lupkes said. “The basketball team offers a great safe space for us to all go and play.” 

In November, the team participated in its first travel tournament of the season. TCU played Texas State, Baylor, Stephen F. Austin University and Sam Houston at Texas State.

The TCU Women’s Basketball Team at their tournament in San Marcos, Texas. (Photo courtesy of Kynnedi Rone)

The team started with eight players. Now, 16 women can take to the court.

“Look[ing] at us today with girls coming from all different parts of the world wanting to be apart of the girls club basketball team, giving up their Saturdays, giving up their Tuesday nights just trying to play the game, to give up their time, and [to] let me lead them, is my proudest moment,” said head coach Kevin Harvey. 

The chemistry of the team was another contributing factor to the team’s success at the Women’s Southern Conference Tournament, according to student coaches Tay Spears and Henry Nixon. 

According to Nixon, the chemistry of the team on and off the court was something extremely noticeable at the tournament. 

“They showed out, they played really well, they made adjustments; not only did they beat every team, but we blew out three out of the five teams we played,” Nixon, a junior engineering major, said. “Everyone wanted to win, so it was easy.” 

The team now has a chance to win a straight bid to the NIRSA National Championship at their tournament this weekend. The team is excited going into the weekend, and for junior player and nursing major Kaylee Cunningham, the practices will pay off.

A member of the TCU women’s basketball team shoots a basketball at practice. (Photo courtesy of Alexis Berry)

“Being able to go out there and represent TCU and win it all just shows all our practice is worth it,” Cunningham said. “This is an actual team that’s capable of doing those things.”

The tournament will be held at the Maverick Activities Center at the University of Texas Arlington on March 4. The team takes on UCLA for the first game of the tournament at 7:30 p.m. Fans can follow the team’s Instagram page for updates.