Last week, Iona College in New Rochelle became Iona University. In 2021, Iona acquired the Bronxville campus of Concordia College, which had ceased operations. This has enabled Iona to expand its offerings in the health sciences, including the addition of a graduate curriculum. These positive changes have energized the alumni base and is bringing a surge of energy to the athletic programs. There are athletic facilities on the Bronxville campus that will hopefully be of use to the Iona Gaels.
“I hope they continue to allow us to target high-level international student-athletes,” said Iona women’s basketball coach Billi Chambers, who is heading into her 10th season. “Obviously, our roster is incredibly diverse and we recruit heavily in the international scene. This is an exciting moment. This allows us to continue to flourish in that area.
“It’s an awesome time around campus,” she added. “The buzz is unbelievable. The growth on this campus is indicative of where Iona stands going into the future and the potential we have as a university.”
Several of the returning women’s basketball players came back to campus in early July to start pre-season workouts. Incoming freshman Amaya Evans from New Jersey is showing her toughness and learning the new concepts. Senior forward/center Ketsia Athias from Brooklyn is trying to step up and take on a leadership role and have an impactful final year.
Among the international players, several are with their national teams. Senior guard Juana Camilion is currently playing with the Spanish national 3×3 team. In 3×3, there is no coaching during a game.
“We do a lot of 3-on-3 breakdowns, but to actually go and play the game…is really opening her mind up to understanding a little bit better and wanting to continue to take on a leadership role and seeing the game differently as she tries to prepare herself to be a professional player,” said Chambers.
Chambers and her staff have been busy with recruiting. Some of them head back out on the road tomorrow. She was also one of more than 1,100 Black women who signed a letter to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. The #WinWithBlackWomen Collective called on the Biden administration to step up efforts to free basketball star Brittney Griner, who is currently detained in Russia.
“We all worry about her,” said Chambers. “Having the opportunity to sign that along with the other Black women was important for me.”