Beavers Women’s Basketball Sets Sights on Improvement with Young Roster 


Tanner Frost

Snow and sleet fall in Storm Lake, mid-November, as the heavy droplets pound the tops of buildings and create a sense of melancholy. A long, arduous year for all nears its end.  

Yet the thoughtprovoking sounds of an impending Winter are lost in the triumphant and energetic music resonating from within Siebens Fieldhouse at Buena Vista University. 

The BVU Women’s Basketball team lace up their shoes, hit the gym floor running, and practice to the cacophony of speaks and rap beats in anticipation of January when competition begins for the first time this season. 

Under normal circumstances, the ladies would have already competed in an exhibition game or two, and by the halfway point of the month, played their first game. 

Instead, Head Coach David Wells, Assistant Coach “A” Alison Shearer, and the 16 women roster continue to practice with heads held high and a drive for success.

“We have been talking to the team in terms of “get ready, stay ready, be ready,” pertaining to the flexibility we will need to be competitive this season. The ladies have been conditioning, working hard, and we have focused on building a strong foundation of skills,” says Wells. 

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, Wells and Shearer have resorted to holding team meetings or drill work over Zoom, masking up during practice, and finding ways to include team bonding in socially distanced ways into the team’s late Fall regime. 

Working in tandem with the BV Athletics training staff, health services, and the rest of the department, flexibility has been key for Wells and his squad.  

“We can take more time in the smaller things, our footwork, positioning, the “howto,” on execution,” explains Wells. “The challenge we face is staying healthy, and not playing against an opponent other than ourselves in a live situation. We emphasize communicating with one another and trying to compete to elevate that bar. 

The “bar” that has been set for Wells has been stumbled on and hurdled over in different ways in his first season as Head Coach in 2019-2020. 

While the team picked up just a lone win throughout the last campaign finishing at 1-24 overall, academically the squad shone. The team made national headlines with a squad GPA of 3.865. “That average was not only the highest by any team on any level for this past season but the highest among any level over at least the last 19 seasons.” 

 The goal now for Wells and Shearer is to improve upon a solid foundation set off of the back end of the last season with a young roster. 

“Going into my second season we revamped the culture, and how we are introducing the game of basketball. More details and more discipline, but at a faster pace. It’s good timing with over half the team being new, and we are molding into what we want the team to look like.” says Wells. “If there was a silver lining to COVID, it is allowing our younger team to learn the game better, and have a chance to find some synergy with new personnel.”  

While Wells notes that communication through a mask and disinfecting the stadium and equipment makes practice situations more challenging, the team’s new sports psychologist has been a huge benefit in helping alleviate mental health challenges that may arise.  

Alongside her coaching staff, the squad’s lone Senior in Cassy Miller shares Well’s sentiment of “changing the culture” of the Women’s Basketball program. 

“The drive and heart that this group of girls and coaches have are amazing,” says Miller. 

“We believe in servant-leadership, meaningful hard-work, and attention to detail. Holding each other accountable is something that will help us achieve those things.” Cassy adds,  “Bringing energy to practice every day is something that will drive us to compete and get better. Having a gym full of energy does wonders during our practices. You can feel the energy, and everyone bounces off of one another, taking some of the energy in and then giving off their own.” 

The squad’s focus on “knowing their role” has also been an individual sticking point leading up to January. 

A sense of unity and family has been fostered by the Senior and her Coaches. 

“At the beginning of the year, we talked as a whole team and kind of told each “class” the kinds of roles that they have. By giving each class a role, it shows them where we want them and where they can continue their growth process as well as build for the following roles in the coming years,” says Miller. 

With the impending season just under two months away, there’s still a sense of worry for Miller that COVID-19 may not allow her to fully experience her Senior season. 

As campus activities and competition have been cut down across the board due to the pandemic, the problem persists. 

“One of my goals, as a senior on the team not knowing how many games we will get because of COVID, is to get these underclassmen ready to go for the coming years. I do want to focus on this year and this season, but who knows what this season is going to bring. We have to stay positive though and one way that I am doing that is showing up every day, helping every one of my teammates get better. In return, they are helping me get better at different basketball skills as well as leadership skills,” says Miller. 

Miller and Wells both agree that the “buy-in” to the culture the program has built over the Fall has been nothing short of remarkable. The squad cares for one another, checks in with each other, and pushes themselves to set a new standard and raise the bar.

The long-term goal for all remains to have fun and enjoy the game of basketball. 

With the help of Coach Shearer, Wells’ second season at the helm of the squad looks to be a success when January finally rolls around. 

“I also want to make sure I say how great it’s been to have Coach “A” Shearer as an assistant. COVID-19 has been a challenge but without her help, that challenge would have been even harder! The team and I are thankful for what she does for this program,” adds Wells. 

January marks the beginning of the season and a fresh start for everyone at Buena Vista University, in Storm Lake, and across the nation. 

The challenges faced thus far have been tough to take at times, but perseverance and a teambranded “grit” ensures the Beaver Women’s Basketball team won’t shy away from their high expectations. 

Miller most of all remain positive for what will be an eventful season in 2021. 

“I am excited to continue this season with this group of girls and coaches and I wouldn’t want to eventually end my career with anyone else.”