Q and A with WashU Women’s Basketball Seniors

Photo by Mary Butkus/WUSTL Photos
Photo by Mary Butkus/WUSTL Photos

By Cassie Davis

Sports Information Intern

The Washington University in St. Louis women's basketball team will honor its six seniors prior to Saturday's contest against University of Chicago – Caroline Ballard, Stephanie Botkin, Becca Clark-Callender, Katie Claussner, Madeline Homoly and Rachael Sondag.

The senior class has led the Bears to an overall record of 86-23, including a 44-11 mark in the UAA with three conference titles and four NCAA Tournament berths.

The group of seniors reflected on the past four years at WashU with sports information intern Cassie Davis.

What made you choose WashU?

CB: I chose WashU because when I came to campus for the first time and met all of the girls on the team, I knew it was a good fit right away. I immediately felt like this was somewhere I could spend the next four years. The amazing academics and championship teams were an added bonus!   

SB: I chose Wash U because it gave me the ability to get a great education and also compete for a national championship.

BCC: As a senior in high school, I didn't know what I wanted to be, but I knew I wanted to keep playing basketball. WashU had a great academic reputation across the board, which to me meant that I couldn't choose wrong when I eventually declared a major. Once I learned about the history of success within the women's basketball program it was a tough choice to beat.  

KC: During my college search, my top priority was to find a school where I could play the game that I love at a high level while not having to sacrifice my academics. Essentially, WashU had the best of both worlds. It has one of the top Women's Basketball programs in the nation, winning five National Championships and having the highest NCAA Final Four Appearances record, as well as a nationally ranked undergraduate program. Ever since my first visit, I just knew I wanted to be a Bear for life. 

MH: I chose Wash U because I wanted to be a part of a top tier basketball program, while also getting a world-class education.  WashU allows you to experience the best of the best in all areas of your life.  It is full of talented and successful people who push you every day.  

RS: Like many of my teammates, I chose WashU because it offered a great balance between academics and basketball. After visiting and interacting with people on campus, it was clear that it was a university I could easily call home.

How do you think being a part of the basketball team has enhanced your time here at WashU?

CB: Being part of the basketball team made my college experience so much better. I have so many memories traveling all around the country with my best friends playing basketball. While at times it made things a little more difficult, it was definitely worth it. The team has given me a family away from home, and has helped me so much through all of the ups and downs of the last four years. 

SB: Being a part of the basketball team has been my favorite part of my time at WashU. My teammates are my best friends and I have had so much fun growing with them on and off the court. The people who are a part of this program, as well as those who support it are incredible and have made this experience special for me and my teammates.

BCC: Being on the basketball team provided an immediate sense of community that I feel incredibly fortunate to have had as a freshman. Now, as a senior, though, I'd say basketball has given me far more than a group of friends. Whether it's meeting student-athletes from other universities, traveling across the country, or even getting to hangout with kids from the community, basketball has given me more than I ever thought it could or would.

KC: Being a member of the WashU Women's Basketball Team for the past four years has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. Going to college can be a really scary experience, as it is the first time that many are now on their own. It was amazing to know that no matter what time of day it was, I always had a team full of people that would do everything within their power to help me and get me where I needed to be. I have created lifelong friendships and bonds with teammates, managers, alumni, coaches, trainers, superfans and so many more as a result of being a member of this team. The integrate alumni network of former basketball Bears has also linked me to world full of connections. 

MH: I am lucky to be surrounded by such driven, talented, and intelligent women.  Our current team members, as well as alumni, are an impressive group of women that we call our Bear family.  Being a part of this team has shown me how much easier things can be when you have a support system looking out for you.  We have each other's backs through thick and thin.  WashU wouldn't be the same without my Bears. 

RS: Being a student athlete at WashU, I have been embraced by the WashU athletics community as a whole. Throughout my time here I've at times been overwhelmed by the celebration and support of our athletic department. With this support, I have been able to grow as a teammate, leader, and overall person.

What is one of your favorite play(s) or game(s) from your time as a Bear?

CB: My favorite games as a Bear were definitely the NCAA Tournament games that we have played in. Those games just have a different energy to them, and they are always so competitive. 

SB: I think we can all agree that Natalie Orr's buzzer beater against Chicago in the 2016-17 season was unforgettable.

BCC: This may be a common response from the rest of my senior teammates, but I don't think there has been a game quite like our UAA finale against Chicago sophomore year. Just the odds alone of coming back from nine points down with 47 seconds to go are enough to make that game memorable, but the way it happened with Ereka (Hunt)'s two 3s and Nat (Orr)'s running floater―it was just an incredible minute of basketball, and one I'll never forget.

KC: My favorite game was when we beat University of Chicago my sophomore year. We came back from being down nine points with only 47 seconds left and won on a buzzer beater.  

MH: My favorite play as a Bear is any time Becca throws one of her " sneaky passes." (if you've seen it, you know). Also the Chicago game where we came back from a nine-point deficit in 47 seconds to win at the buzzer - the most exciting game I've ever played!

RS: Our sophomore year, we played Chicago for the UAA championship in our last game. Ereka Hunt and Natalie Orr both hit HUGE shots in the final minute for us to pull out a miraculous comeback win. As a young shooter, I looked up to both of these teammates as role models and watching their hard work turn into success was so fun and forever memorable.

What is one thing you learned from Coach Fahey and Coach Henderson?

CB: Having two amazing coaches to learn from has been such a blessing. Coach Fahey was my coach for freshman and sophomore year, and she taught me the value of hard work and what it meant to truly do what is best for the team. Coach Henderson has taught me so much about leadership over the last two years. She has taught me that being a leader is hard work, and you have to be extremely unselfish. These lessons will help me for the rest of my life. 

SB: From Coach Fahey I learned what it meant to be a Bear and how to work hard and have patience. From Coach Henderson I have learned leadership through service, and to appreciate my teammates and have fun playing basketball. 

BCC: Coach Fahey brought me into college basketball, and for that I'm incredibly grateful. She taught me the power of details and discipline, which is a hard thing to learn as a freshman, and an even harder thing to fully appreciate until you're a veteran player. From Coach Henderson I learned to have faith in the moments where basketball is unpredictable, to be prepared for the unexpected and the unplanned.

KC: In my first two years on the team, coach Fahey drilled into our heads the importance of timeliness and preparedness. Coach Fahey implemented the "Bear Time" rule which stated that if you're not ten minutes early, you're late. Furthermore, if you wanted to win, you needed to run the other team's plays better than they could run them themselves.

MH: Although very different people, I have learned about how to be a strong woman from each of these two coaches.  Having strong female role models is so important and both of these women have been incredible examples.  Coach Fahey was a legend, and it was an honor to get to play for her and see how she created the WashU basketball legacy.  Coach Henderson taught us that you can be a strong mother and successful leader, you don't have to choose. 

RS: Of the many lessons I've learned under these two great mentors, I think the following has stuck with me the most: "do the unremarkable, with remarkable consistency." Developing a true dependability and consistency is remarkable.

What are your future plans for after graduation?

CB: I will be taking a gap year before applying to medical school.

SB: After graduation I plan to move to the Twin Cities to work as an Investment Associate for Travelers Insurance.

BCC: After graduation I'll be pursuing a master's degree in journalism, but will not know for sure where I'm headed until April.

KC: I have accepted a full-time offer with Andersen Tax in Chicago and will begin working there in the summer. I hope to pass the CPA exam shortly after graduation and eventually receive my master's. 

MH: I am going to work in the medical field while applying for medical schools.  Wish me luck! 

RS: I've accepted a full-time job at Epic in Madison, Wis. working in Technical Services.