GREAT FALLS — Providence University’s women’s basketball program will travel overseas next year to begin its season by competing in International University Sports Federation (FISU) America games in Merida, Mexico, but they won’t go as the Argos they will as representing Team USA.
The teams that normally attend to represent the United States in basketball are NCAA Division I, but due to the game schedule that occurs when most schools start their season, they have turned to NAIA schools where the Argos were selected as the best option to represent their country in international competition. To give an idea of the caliber of the teams selected, the last team selected from the United States was the SEC’s Mississippi State Bulldogs.
“They were looking for a team that could represent the United States,” head coach Bill Himmelberg said. “We are a top-25, well-known, ranked team and represent well not only in the classroom but on the basketball court.”
As exciting as it may be for coaches and players, it’s no surprise the team got this opportunity. Under Coach Himmelberg’s leadership, the team has consistently blossomed by placing in the top 25, producing All-Americans, and setting a standard of excellence in team GPA.
“At first I was just speechless just because it’s such a big opportunity and it’s super cool, but I’m not surprised because Coach Bill has set this team up for success,” explained Sophomore Brooklyn Harn.
Besides the obvious honor of representing the United States overseas, the team is excited to see international competition as for many it will be their first interaction with it.
“I’ve only played in the US, I’ve never played away, so I’m really interested to see how physical the girls are, how athletic the girls are, how they play the game and all the complex things in basketball,” Junior Reed Hazard added.
With the departure of four key seniors from last season, Emilee Maldonado, Parker Esary, Kerstyn Pimperton and Elly Teske, next year’s squad will be younger and more inexperienced, but playing a week before the rest of the NAIA will be a challenge. chance to acclimatize before the start of the season.
“Our team is going to be young next year, so it’s going to be a good experience for them and it’s going to be a great bonding experience,” Himmelberg said. “We want our kids to have fun, make friends while we’re at it, and be super competitive.”
The games take place from October 14 to 26. Team USA will be represented in up to 15 sports against 20-25 participating countries from Central, North and South America.