It’s great to be back in action after a year off the court due to the pandemic, but the prolonged absence meant that Lynda Day, head women’s basketball coach at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, had to rebuild a team practically from scratch. There are only two returning players on the roster, but the freshmen have brought a love of the game and lots of energy.

“We have a lot of freshmen playing big minutes, but all it really has done is create opportunities. We’re learning a lot about ourselves and about each other, so we can get it together when we start conference play in January,” said Day.

John Jay competes in the CUNY Athletic Conference, which is Division III. The players balance their love of basketball and competition with school, family obligations and jobs. Day said it’s a tough balance, one she also navigates as she has another job as director of a Montessori preschool. She said she happily juggles obligations for the love of the game.

“Even though [the players] are putting a lot more time obligations in, I think they have a major advantage over the average student in the fact that, one, you have to manage your time very well as a student-athlete,” said Day. “They learn a lot of life lessons through sport. Also, they have their coaches looking out for them, trying to help them become better people, not just better athletes.”

The two assistant coaches for women’s hoops, Cassandra Taylor and Nyasha Howard, previously played for Day and are John Jay alums. Day said, of course, they want to make the players as good as they can be on the court, but they also want to see them build a great foundation for life.

It wasn’t easy to rebuild the team after a year away, but Day is pleased with the camaraderie that this group has built in a relatively short time together. CUNY AC play begins on Jan. 4 with a home game against Brooklyn College. Mayor-elect Eric Adams, a John Jay graduate, is welcome to attend. 

“I do think there’s such young talent here that they really don’t know what they are capable of, but I truly would love to see us play our best basketball,” said Day. “Win as many conference games as we can to position ourselves as best as possible. … I believe this team has the potential to get to the conference finals.”

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