Vikings women's basketball team takes first place in ACAC, ninth place in CCAA

Practice time in the offseason and keeping calm under pressure are a few of the reasons for this year's success, says women's basketball coach.

Tia Lalani - 23 November 2018

By Amielle Christopherson

After an impressive start to the season, which included a seven-game winning streak, the Augustana Vikings women's basketball team is at the top of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) table with 16 points, four points ahead of second place NAIT Ooks in the North Division and overall leader by four points in the ACAC. They've also nabbed a top 10 spot in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA), moving into ninth place this week after they split the weekend with the NAIT Ooks.

Coach Robyn Fleckenstein is proud of her players and the results they've achieved so far this season. When asked if she's surprised by how well her team has been doing so far, she replied, "I suppose so, yes, very pleasantly." Fleckenstein commended her players on their off-season training and coming into the season ready to play their best. "I knew we had a lot of players who put in a ton of time in the offseason, and that they were very ready to have a competitive season, but I have been so thrilled to see their collective growth was also affected. They push each other and teach each other and it's a great atmosphere."

One of the things Fleckenstein has talked to her players about is keeping calm under pressure, something that has improved from last season to this year.

"We played in a lot of close games last season, so we have spent a lot of time in the past two years talking about how to stay cool in those situations," she said. "The athletes have also really bought in a detail-oriented focus, which allows them to hold each other accountable for little things. This has helped them grow on their own terms."

Photo credit: Sean Mascaluk, Pro Sports Photography. Photo courtesy of Vikings Athletics.

Although the group is thrilled with their first and ninth place positions, Fleckenstein noted that "this group is very eyes-on-the-prize," and that they're "focused on a continuing path of growth and improvement so that we can be the best versions of ourselves in March for playoffs." In order to make it a strong overall season and give themselves the best opportunity possible during March playoffs, Fleckenstein commented that the goal for the team is to take it one game at a time. "Each win comes in sequence and it's important to not look ahead when the real opportunity for success is in this day, whether it's a practice or a game, we want to compete and improve during each opportunity," she said.

When asked if she knows how the Augustana campus is reacting to the news that they have the best team in the league, Fleckenstein said she's unsure, but added that "I would also say that we have one of the best crowds/gyms in the conference. There's nothing better than a home game with our fans who really buy into the atmosphere," she said, adding, "We appreciate those fans so much, but if getting the word out would get us an even more packed house we would be thrilled and grateful!"

It's not the first time coaches and athletes have commented that Augustana Vikings fans are some of the best (and loudest!) in the conference and how much they appreciate the energy they bring to the gym, something they very much appreciate. Feedback from fans has been that they're enjoying the pace the women's team is playing at, according to Fleckenstein. "The athletes do a great job of pushing the tempo, and they love to shoot the three," she said. "We have some very smart players who play a clever game so there is lots of feedback about watching great ball movement and selfless play."

The Vikings are looking to finish off the first half of the season with two last wins against the King's University Eagles and their last home game of the season is Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. in the Augustana gym and the women's team would love to see a gym full of Vikings fans to help end 2018 on a high note!

This article originally appeared on the Vikings Website on November 14, 2018.