Reconvening for the first time since spring 2020 felt so good to the players on the Brooklyn College women’s basketball team. Long-time head coach Alex Lang admitted it felt strange and surreal at the first practice, but also great fun for the players and the coaches to be together in an organized setting.
“It’s kind of like we never stopped, but then you think about it and realize, ‘We haven’t played in a really long time,’” said Lang, who has led the Bulldogs to CUNYAC championships.
Brooklyn opened with three straight wins before dropping a close game to Kean University. The returning players did their best to stay in shape during the long time off—Brooklyn and other Division III schools in the CUNYAC did not compete during the 2020–’21 academic year due to the pandemic—but some did better at staying in game shape than others.
“For basketball players it’s tough not having that motivation or an actual season, the next game and the next challenge,” said Lang. “They’re all very good athletes, so we’re working our way back as we speak.”
Recruiting was not easy during the past year. As people could not visit the campus, Lang sent videos and had Zoom calls with potential recruits. Three freshmen, one sophomore and a couple of transfers join some outstanding returnees, including graduate student Chanel Jemmott, who garnered CUNYAC Player of the Week honors her first week back in action.
Lang is honest in saying there were a lot of little details that needed to be attended to—like getting former players to come clean out their lockers—which are a result of the campus largely being closed due to the pandemic. He described it as a whirlwind, but the love of the game is as strong as ever.
The basketball team got a boost of inspiration from Brooklyn College’s volleyball team, which won the CUNYAC and competed in the NCAA Division III Tournament. Two players, Ashley Fung and Aleah Rafat, were on that team and have now transitioned over to basketball, sharing their energy and excitement.
“Basketball is the fun part; we’re excited to be back,” Lang said. “The first three games we played with eight players. Going into it I was very nervous because we were underwomanned. Not playing perfect basketball after a whole year of not practicing or playing, but we have a very talented team.”