Ella de Jong — Staff Writer
The Dordt Women’s Basketball team ended their season with a 54-67 loss to Briar Cliff on February 24, 2021 in their first GPAC quarterfinal game. Their defeat cost them a chance to play in the NAIA National Tournament. For seniors, Mari Smitsdorff, Baylee Tetzlaff, Erika Feenstra, and Siennah Stamness, it was the final collegiate basketball game of their careers.
“There were lots of tears and hugs shared in the locker room as we thanked the seniors for everything they have done for us and Dordt Women’s Basketball” said Ashtyn Veerbeek, a forward junior transfer.
The loss was more than a disappointment—it was a shock. The Defenders, who were nationally ranked at the time, had previously beaten Briar Cliff by 33 points the week prior.
“We went into that game after playing some of our best basketball of the season,” said Macey Nielson, a freshman guard. “We were excited to keep that high level of play rolling.”
Veerbeek and Nielson both felt disappointed at the conclusion of the game. These emotions soon merged into gratitude, though. They are both thankful for the opportunity to play the game of basketball amidst a pandemic while other teams across the country have barely had a season. Their gratitude also lies in love for their teammates.
“I know that each one of them has my back,” Veerbeek said.
There is no lack of friendship within the Dordt Women’s Basketball team. With shared goals, personalities, and work ethics, the girls love spending time with each other and pushing each other to be the best they can be. They can count on each other on and off the court for encouragement
“They’re also goofy, energetic, and always down for a dance party in the locker room,” Nielson said.
These emotions of gratitude at the end of the season to stem from the culture of the team. Veerbeek notes this squad’s chemistry as different from any other team she has been on. This developed from the loving environment each teammate provides for the team. They can confide in each other and lean on each other for support.
“So far Dordt basketball has taught me how to be a member of a team that feels more like a family,” Nielson said.
This basketball team, most importantly, leans on God. They have learned to put God at the center of their lives and understand their faith is far more important than losing a basketball game to Briar Cliff. Through the wins and losses, Nielson has found that God is still there.
The culture of the basketball team will look no different in the coming season. Veerbeek and Nielson will both be returning for the 2021-2022 basketball season and are excited to come back even better. The rest of off-season, they will be training and improving their skills together as a team.