By Wesley Leffelman
It was March 1st and the Statesmen were heading into the conference championship game with hopes of heading to the NAIA National Tournament with a win. Unfortunately that day did not go as well as planned. It was a very back and forth game with MidAmerica Nazarene and the Statesmen just were not able to put enough points on the board, losing the game by five points.
There was some disappointment surrounding the team as a result of this loss. Once back in the locker room, Head Coach Willie Scott consoled his team on the loss and shared with them his intent to resign from Penn for personal reasons. At that point the squad thought that their season was over, only to actually make the tournament and loose in the first round, effectively ending Coach Scott’s tenure in Oskaloosa.
Over the last two seasons Coach Scott has done a terrific job of helping to continue to bring quality student-athletes into the Women’s Basketball program. That is evident when one looks at the consistent improvement that the squad has made over his time at the helm.
In Scott’s first season, the team won three more games than the year prior and improved their conference record by six games.
This season, the team won four more games than previously and another six game bump in conference play, not to mention making the conference championship game and qualifying for the NAIA National Tournament.
When asking sophomore forward Vashti Nwagbaraocha about Scott she had only praises saying “he wanted to come in and change the program and he did. I respect him for that.” The forward said that for the most part, the team also understood that he was making a decision that was for his family and they tried to see the light in the new situation.
Now focus in on Steve Williamson, the new Head Coach.
Williamson comes from Iowa Wesleyan and has about as impressive of a resume as one can ask for. Over his 12 year span at IWU the coach was able to lead his team to six conference championships as well as an impressive eight national tournament appearances.
When asked about his plans for the program in the future Williamson did not hesitate, “I want to build a program that can compete each year for the conference title.” That is a great frame of mind to have for a team that is returning a lot of key contributors coming off a landmark season.
Now all that remains is for the players and the new staff to mesh, something that seems to be going well so far. Nwagbaraocha had made a comment that it would be very crucial for the team to embrace the new coach.
Williamson then later made it obvious that this has not been an issue saying “They have responded positively to me as a coach in going through this transition phase.” The team has been finding success over the past couple seasons and this new coaching change should do nothing but help to continue that pattern.