Squad of men helps women’s team prepare

Noelle Ott

They say that for every great man, there is a great woman behind him. Well, for the Missouri Southern women’s basketball team this has been reversed.

With the Lion’s recent victory on the court over Northwest Missouri State University, some credit goes to the men’s practice team.

Although they are often unseen, Wes Hilton, senior criminal justice major, Tyler Duke, senior criminal justice major and Ryan Hill, senior accounting major, are part of the reason for the Lion’s success and improvements on the court. All three practice with the women’s basketball team to challenge them to do better.

“When you’re on a team with all girls, trying to get yourself better, there’s no better way than playing against guys because they’re more athletic,” said Nicole Greninger, junior guard for the women’s basketball team.

Southern has had a group of men practice with them for four years. To be a part of the practice team, the men must meet all the NCAA requirements, have played in high school and they had to be relatively successful during their high school career. The practice team plays against the women four times per week for two hours each practice. However, when the women are not in conference play the men do practice with them less.

“They bring a great deal of athleticism into the court,” said Ronda Hubbard, the assistant coach for the women’s basketball team, “The girls come into the practice knowing they can’t have a lax practice because (the men are) quicker, stronger and can jump higher.”

The practice team is an all-volunteer team and besides the requirements listed above, the coaches look for someone who desires the women to be successful.

“We hope to get them some competition,” said Hilton, “Hopefully we’re stiffer competition than what they play.”

Although the men wish to help the women, they said they too get something out of it. Besides getting to know the players behind the scenes, they are also able to stay in shape.

Currently, all top 20 Division I teams and a majority of Division II teams in women’s basketball have practice teams as well.