After the Men’s practice last week I stuck around for the beginning of the Women’s practice. Interestingly enough, although the Men’s and Women’s team  play for the same sport, and the same school, the two teams are completely different.

The Women ran on the court to form a huddle and started clapping to a rhythm before commencing practice. As they began their drills, I noticed they did them as a whole team, not separated.

As I continued to observe, I noticed that affirmations are not distributed lightly. Every shot made, every pass, was acknowledged through clapping, cheering and pats on the back. The team had chemistry.

Between that moment and now both the Men’s and Women’s team had an exciting season opener. This year was the third annual Greg Richards Memorial Tipoff Tournament. There was high energy in the Wise Center this past weekend, coming from the stands, the coaches, the players and their first game jitters.

It felt good to be on a court that was so alive. I walked in, assumed my position on the press bench, a few seats down from the SID with the Men’s team directly to my right. I unpacked everything and set up shop. A couple minutes before the game all the referees come down the row of people at the press bench and shake hands or fist bump. And next thing you know, its tip off time.

Both the Women’s and Men’s team emerged champions after the weekend. The Men’s team played against Pitt-Titusville for their first game of the weekend and SUNY-Canton the following day.

The Greg Richard’s MVP award was given to Evan Zabriski. The Sophomore posted 26 points in the game, and was 6 for 7 in free throw shots accumulating a .857 percentage. Zabriski made a presence defensively helping to change the rhythm of the game by forcing turnovers. This left no room for Canton to pick up momentum. The Gators maintained the lead and beat Canton with a final score of 73-64, the team had great chemistry the entire weekend.The Women’s team won both of their tournament games and the Gators were off to a great to start this season.

When I interviewed the players after the game they all agreed that it was important to keep the momentum going as they commence their season. Both teams played Juniata College next and both teams picked up an L, forcing their record to be 2-1 thus far.