Mary Baldwin alumnae/i come back to campus for many reasons. Hitting the hardwood for a preseason game against the current basketball team was a special one for several graduates this fall. Head Basketball Coach Jackie Bryan organized what she hopes will be the first of many annual student versus alumnae games, reviving a tradition that has come and gone with changing head coaches.
“Women’s basketball has come such a long way, here and elsewhere,” Bryan said. “I want Mary Baldwin players of the past to be part of us as we continue to build a program we are all proud of.”
Several of the alums who returned to play this November praised the squad’s first-ever trip to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III tournament in spring 2004.
“It’s wonderful to see how far the program has come since my freshman year,” said Nina Mouzone ’01, citing a winless season in 1997-98. Mouzone, who scored more than 1,000 points in her career at Mary Baldwin, made the trip from Baltimore, Maryland, where she teaches high school English. She is also in her third season as a member of the Baltimore Burn, a team in the national women’s football league.
Desiree Schrader Stogdale ’96 remembers playing in alumnae games as a student. She popped over from her home in Staunton to see what it feels like to be on the other side of the court.
“We used to do these all the time. As a student, the game was a fun way to get revved up for the season,” said Stogdale, who served as a basketball coach at Mary Baldwin for a few years after her graduation.
Members of the Class of 2004, Maneisha “Moe” Hardy, Rikki Grooms, and Lateasha Armstead joined Mouzone and Stogdale on the alumnae team. Passion Wilkins Williams ’00, Mary Baldwin senior Lynn Malone, and transfer student Angela Bartolacci also aided the alumnae team.
Mouzone said Hardy and Associate Professor of English Robert Grotjohn convinced her to come back to campus after an extended hiatus. Bryan counts on alums and faculty and staff to encourage more graduates to get re-involved in athletic programs.
The alumnae had enthusiasm and skill, but lacked the coordination learned with regular practice to win the game. Each team scored on its first trip down the court, but the Fighting Squirrels quickly opened up a 15-2 lead. They held on to a comfortable advantage for the entire game, which ended in a solid 84-57 win for the student team.
“It’s a friendly competition. Basketball is fun for everyone who’s here and it’s laid back,” said sophomore Melissa Conyers ‘07, the team’s three-point specialist.
Although the team is young — there are no seniors and seven freshmen — Bryan said it has a good chance of making it to the national arena. If the scrimmage against alumnae was any indication, start saving for your NCAA tickets now.