Update on women’s basketball team

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the women’s basketball team has given each member of the team the opportunity to ‘opt-in’ or ‘opt-out’ of the remainder of the season

Head Coach Stacy Stephens said, “I would like to state that we (OLLU women’s basketball staff and players) totally and fully respect the decision of the women’s basketball players to opt-in (play) or to opt-out (not play) during this unprecedented times. Coach Tommy Turgeon and I will not change in regards to the academic standards that we have for our team no matter how their decision impacts us on the court. Academics and graduation are goals in our program. We will also continue to work on the court with the players who have opted in, understanding that we will continue to strive for greatness, and some players will be taking on new roles and new challenges. We are excited for the growth that is to come in the remainder of the 2020-2021 basketball season.”

Stephens continued, “Playing basketball throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been frustrating, challenging, and uncertain, Stephens commented. “The young women on this team have overcome and weathered many storms both as a team and personally. They had moments when they were knocked down, but they always stood back up. This lifted me up as their coach with their smiles and enthusiasm. I am proud to coach all of these amazing, confident young women. These young women are strong and determined as each looked at the situation and thought about factors that normally do not affect basketball teams. They had the strength and courage to make the best decision for them.

“After the season has completed, and when the time is right, we will regroup and look forward to the 2021-2022 season with excitement, enthusiasm and confidence as we continue to grow both on the court and in the classroom.

“In closing, I know this has been a rough year for everyone, and I hope that you know how much we in women’s basketball appreciate you all,” Stephens concluded.

Last week, OLLU announced that men’s and women’s basketball and the competitive cheer and dance teams would opt-out of the NAIA and RRAC championship competition due to concerns over COVID-19 and safety and testing protocols. The Saints notified teams that they are willing to play those who are testing weekly. The basketball staff will seek other programs following similar protocols and testing regimens to protect the student-athletes and OLLU community.

Athletic Director Shane Hurley said, “As basketball has a higher possibility of spread due to being indoors, on a small playing surface and a high degree of contact, we have opted to sit this year out of NAIA and RRAC championship play. We were very concerned about the asymptomatic spread generated by opponents not testing regularly, especially for indoors and high-contact sports. While this decision was hoped to be avoided, it is one that we make in confidence for the general safety of all involved in the sport. Unfortunately, agreements could not be made with opponents, but we will seek out other playing opportunities to give our programs development opportunities as we prepare for the 2021-2022 year.”

The Saints are currently scheduled to travel to Shreveport, La., to play LSU-Shreveport on Jan. 23, and host the Pilots on Jan. 26. On Feb. 4, the Saints will celebrate its seniors as they host Jarvis Christian College. On Feb. 6, the Saints will travel to Hawkins, Texas, for their last scheduled game against Jarvis. The team will seek out games to fill out their season.

Spectators will not be allowed to attend games at OLLU; however, the games will be live-streamed through the OLLU Saints Network.