Varsity Red: Two squads, one team
Every Washington University women’s basketball season, there is a team that goes unnoticed by most of the Wash. U. community.
Varsity Red, the junior varsity-esque squad, exists as a “training team” to develop players’ skills. Varsity Red’s purpose is to serve as a way for players who normally don’t receive much, if any, playing time in regular varsity games. In Varsity Red games, they may hone abilities that will be used in the more physical, faster-paced varsity matches. The roster is constantly rotating, depending on which personnel are needed and on recent performances on the court. For an away game, which requires plane travel, the varsity squad generally takes 14 players. If the squad travels by bus, it usually takes between 15 and 17.
“Coach [Nancy Fahey] uses the Varsity Red games to give players playing experience,” graduate student co-captain Jaimie McFarlin said. “Every week Coach must make the decision about who travels, sits on the bench…and that is based on a lot of factors, such as the team we are playing.”
The team is usually coached by Bobbi Morse, the assistant coach for the varsity squad, but the two teams may share coaches at any time. Games are on Mondays, and the entire program shows up to support the Red.
“We all have Washington University on the front of our jersey, and we just happen to play on different days of the week,” said Amanda Meppelink, a sophomore who plays for Varsity Red. “Everyone in the program is supportive of each other. We all practice together and scrimmage against each other, so there really is no dynamic.”
Varsity Red faces off against various junior colleges and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, such as Lewis and Clark, Southwestern Illinois Community College, Elmhurst, Lindenwood and Millikin. Varsity Red is currently 4-1, having lost to only Kaskaskia College.
The Varsity Red is very integrated into the program, on and off the court.
“Other than their additional games,” McFarlin said, “everyone practices together, and we don’t consider anyone ‘JV’ players.”
The Varsity Red games not only allow players to work on their individual skills, but also “execute what we practice so when in a varsity game [we] are prepared,” said Stacey Niese, a senior co-captain. Niese played on Varsity Red and stressed the value of being able to replicate game settings that are impossible to have in practice while playing in the Red games.
Niese also emphasized the cohesiveness of the women’s basketball program.
“No matter where you are in the system, we are one team working towards the same goals, and everyone sees her teammates as an equally important part of what makes [the] Wash. U. women’s basketball team great,” Niese said.