Behind the Scenes of NCAA Week

The St. Thomas Aquinas College Women’s Basketball team returns to the NCAA tournament for the first time in four years with a Friday matchup against Southern New Hampshire.

The Spartans went 21-8 this season, earning the No. 7-seed in the East Regional after losing to Daemen University 66-51 in the ECC Women’s Hoops Tournament Championship Sunday.

We asked two of the team’s key players — sophomore guard Sarah Ericson and junior guard Kaitlyn Watrobski — to keep a journal of their NCAA week and give us a peek behind the scenes as the team prepares for Friday’s 2:30 game against SNHU at Assumption University in Worcester.

Here’s what they had to say.

Day 1

Sunday, March 5

Not Done Yet

Have you ever felt your highest of highs and lowest of lows all in one day? That’s how today felt. Losing to Daemen in the ECC finals, thinking our season may be over and then less than ten hours later we find out we’ll get another chance. 

On the ride back to STAC, we had this feeling that we still had more to prove. 

We get back to STAC around 10:15 p.m. and get ready to watch the NCAA selection show. We gathered in the team room at STAC. Along came the men’s basketball team, campus security, and other members of STAC to support us as we awaited the news. 

As our hearts sank waiting to hear our name called, the feeling of complete defeat disappeared in an instant as we heard “The Spartans of St.Thomas Aquinas College.” 

The room broke out in cheers, screams, and applause as we found out there would be more to come. We all felt it was a sign that more greatness was coming. Back to work. 

Day 2

Monday, March 6

But first… Recovery

Even though the mental and emotional pain was gone, the physical pain remained. After a long weekend of back-to-back highly competitive games, we had to prepare for an even bigger weekend ahead. 

We took the time today to get treatment, take care of our bodies, and catch up with school work. Going into this week we are highly motivated, hyped up, and hungry for what’s to come. 

Day 3

Tuesday, March 7

Preparation Begins

Tuesday was more of a normal day. We all went to our classes, then got ready for practice. It was more of an “us” day. 

At practice we focused mainly on our offense and what makes us successful as a team. As we make tweaks, focus on the little things, and try to be more disciplined, success will come.

One thing we talked about in practice was how out of 312 Division II women’s basketball teams, we’re one of 64 remaining. It brings a new perspective as to how hard we worked to get here. 

After practice, we lifted weights and watched our previous game against Southern New Hampshire, our next opponent. Watching the film back, we’re able to recognize that we let the first matchup slip away. 

Today, we feel like we are a different and more developed team, and we’re ready to show that on Friday. 

Day 4

Wednesday, March 8

One Step Closer

There was much to accomplish before we headed off to Worcester, Massachusetts. At our last practice in the gym before we hit the road, we focused on our defense and the other team’s tendencies. 

At the end of practice we recognized our fantastic boys’ practice players, who have helped us get better and are a huge reason that we are where we are. 

We gave out awards for Most Fake Injuries, Coach of the Year, Most Bricked Layups, Most Turnovers, Most Improved, and Most Likely to go MIA. 

After we loaded up the bus everything began to feel real. It’s time to go dancing!

Day 5 

March 9

24 Hours Away… 

Today we woke up, had a great breakfast, we went to Assumption, and had a strong and productive shoot around. 

Then we were able to go to Holy Cross and have practice there as well. We got a little tour of their athletic facilities and we were all pretty amazed to see the resources they have there. 

It was a pretty long day for all of us but we are all really excited and ready to go to battle. We have worked really hard to get to this point and we aren’t ready for it to be over yet.