Using the term 'a blessing is disguise' is cliche as well as an unfair tag to put on the pandemic that has caused so much strife, but the Central Washington women's basketball team is looking at what it could mean for the future of the program.
The team is young with only a handful of players with college playing experience. The loss of a year will help Central build up and teach systems to the novice additions to the squad in these games.
"Honestly, Covid's not ideal for anybody, but in terms of where we are at as a program with all the new players," said head coach Randi Richardson-Thornley, "for these younger players to get some games under their belt and not lose a year of eligibility, it's going to be amazing."
On the other side of that coin, the veteran players have another chance at a GNAC championship and national tournament.
"The older players," said Richardson-Thornley, "it's about them becoming better leaders."
Senior forward Cassidy Malcom says she made the decision to use the lost year and return next season. She averaged over 11 points for the Wildcats last season.
"I had to make that decision over winter break," said Malcolm. "Ultimately I would have just regretted it [if I didn't return]."
These six games will help the team be more of a unit when they hit the hardwood when it counts next winter.
"I'm actually really thankful for these six games," said Malcolm, "but thankful to look forward to a whole other season."
These games also will allow upperclassman to establish their roles on the team. Senior Kizza Maltezo brings in experience as a senior transfer from Concordia (Ore.) while junior Kiera Bush joins the Wildcats from Midland College.
"It can take a whole year from transfers to learn how we do things," said Richardson-Thornley.
Meanwhile, 6-2 junior center Samantha Bowman enters this season looking to step into a leadership roll. She was 9th in the conference in blocked shots for the Wildcats last season, and wants to do her part to make the team better with her experience.
"This is my growing year so I am really trying to step into those roles," said Bowman, "and knowing I have two more years, I just want to keep that going ad be the player my team can come to if they need anything but also be hard on them to make them better."
The Wildcats open their season February 26th against Seattle Pacific University -- Exactly a year from their last conference match-up, weirdly enough, also against SPU.