Despite losses, Carroll women spend summer working toward another banner year

Posted at 4:48 AM, Jul 08, 2024

HELENA — Carroll College’s women’s basketball team had a banner year last season, making a trip to the NAIA’s national semifinals. But even though we’re over four months away from the start of this season, that process of hanging another banner has already begun.

“I think that this is where championship teams are built,” said head coach Rachelle Sayers about her team’s voluntary summer practice sessions. “Getting better in the offseason — for them to grind it out at 6:30 (a.m.), five days a week together I think builds a lot of cohesion. But also toughness.

“You know, they go into seasons, they go into games, knowing that they’ve put in the work, that they can trust their preparation. They didn’t miss a beat.”

All 12 of the team’s returners for this season stuck around campus for the summer despite the workouts being voluntary. Many players took summer jobs in the area to make it all possible.

“It’s about all the work you do in the offseason,” said Kyndall Keller, a fifth-year guard. “That builds your confidence for the season. And it just really helps you to keep on improving.”

The Fighting Saints are preparing for a season in which they will be without some of the key veterans who helped lead them to last year’s national semifinals, including national player of the year Jamie Pickens.

“Obviously, we lost a great group of seniors, and we’re really gonna miss them,” said Keller. “But we also have great younger kids, great middle-class kids. So I’m super excited for them to get the chance to play and show their skills.”

And with that transition to highlighting younger talent comes what senior point guard Addi Ekstrom calls a complete switch in mentality.

“We just are switching our mentality completely,” said Ekstrom. “We are the hunter. We’re going after people, attacking people off the dribble, playing a lot faster — just everything we’re doing is with a lot of pace, trying to get up the court.”

Despite the changes, Sayers said that the goal for her team remains the same this season as it does every season: Win.