Top tier: Pipers shooting for the stars

History is currently in the making as the Hamline Women’s Basketball team continues racking up victories as a golden ticket to the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletics Conference playoffs for the first time in 36 years.

Cole Brennan, sports reporter


Hamline’s number 15 goes up for a free ball in the battle against Gustavus in Hutton Arena. (Aidan Stromdahl)

Marty Mcfly was America’s sweetheart, Madonna was on top of the world and Ronald Reagan was the president of the United States. That was the last time the Hamline Women’s Basketball team won 18 games in a single season. Their current head coach, Alex Focke, was born in that same year. The Pipers are fourth in the MIAC right now with a conference record of 16–5 and an overall record of 18–6. The MIAC playoffs will not only be an opportunity to break the record, but set a new standard for Women’s hoops all together. 

The team is enjoying success after a frustrating 2020-2021 season. 

“I think last year was different, but I think we knew we had the ability to be good,” Sophomore guard Larisa O’Neil said. O’Neil has had some individual success of her own this year, scoring a team high 27 points against Carleton College and going 7 for 11 on threes in that game.

 The Pipers’ shortened COVID-19 season saw them finish with a record of 2–4. This record was not something that seemed to phase the team. They believe they got better as a unit by the end of the six games and no one was doubting the fact that they would get a second chance the following year. 

“I feel like this fall felt different. People did a lot more on their own this summer and this fall,” senior guard Sophie Findell said. 

Aidan Stromdahl

With the 2020-2021 season filled with team practices with little opportunity to play MIAC opponents, Focke had to draw up a new plan for his squad. 

“When you talk about the hardships that many people across the world faced, basketball seems very minor. We looked at last year as an opportunity to really work on fundamentals. We did a lot of skill development drills and strength and conditioning and I think that has helped us this year,” Focke said.

The Pipers success comes from a constant resilience to be one of the best teams in the conference and out-work their opponents. Before the season began, they were confident in their abilities and trusted the process. Now that they have felt the feeling of success, they have to find a way to keep their confidence heading into the playoffs. 

“Our coach always says top tier, that’s top four in the conference. That was our goal,” Findell said. 

Their goals have been met and now all they want to do is keep the season going and play for the seniors that only have a few more games left in their college career.

 “I think all of us have the mentality that we can do it, it’s within reach,” O’Neil said. 

This group of hoopers have experienced much success on the court recently and the energy of the team is not hurting their efficacy, either. 

“This team has a fun personality and enjoys being around each other. They care about each other and I think that shows up on the court with the way they play,” Focke said. 

The Hamline Women’s basketball has the talent and chemistry to make a postseason run for Hamline to remember. Regardless of how the playoffs shake out, the momentum from this season will propel the Hamline women’s basketball program to be in the top tier of the MIAC bracket for years to come.

The women’s basketball team at Hamline has been working with Coach Alex Focke for eight years, the last five
of those positioning him as the head coach. (Aidan Stromdahl)