NJCAA Drops the Ball
By MONTY GANTT
On March 23, the Pima Community College Women’s Basketball team defeated the Sinclair Community College Tartans 64-57 to finish their season 5th in the final NJCAA rankings. The game was one of the better ones for the Aztecs as it featured aggressive defense, proficient offense and an ideal farwell game for Sophomores who will move on to a different chapter in life.
An official representing the NJCAA handed Aztecs Head Coach Todd Holthaus a commemorative souvenir to remember the moment, the basketball used to play that day’s game. It was a nice gesture by the committee to reward the hard working women on a tremendous season and for surviving throughout the week long tournament.
Then, as the Aztecs were treated to a celebratory meal by coach Holthaus at Taco Bell, many players began to share cell phone screens. They were also talking amongst themselves. The tones in their voices were everything from upset to concerned.
They were looking at a tweet from the Pima athletics page. The tweet was a congratulations to the Men’s Basketball team on finishing 7th in the country. The male Aztecs were able to shake off an early tournament upset in the championship bracket to win the 7th place consolation bracket.
The reward the men’s team received however was different from a game ball. They were gifted with a commemorative plaque and medals. Plaques and medals. The women were gifted with a ball. The women’s team reacted how any team would react to a similar situation in any sport, they were upset.
“I just think it wasn’t fair,” said sophomore forward Shauna Bribiescas. “We played the same amount of games the guys did and worked just as hard for 5th place.” Bribiescas said.
The Aztecs felt slightly disrespected that all consolation bracket winners in the men’s tournament received an engraved piece of wood and metal while they received a ball.
“I don’t believe in the whole ‘everybody gets a trophy’ thing but getting 5th out of 135 teams definitely deserves something.” said sophomore guard Bryanne Olson.
Despite what many may assume, the team doesn’t hold any ill will towards the men’s team at all “I’m not mad at our guys at all,” said sophomore guard Brianna Pitre. “They did exceptionally well this season and I’m happy for them.”
Others, like redshirt freshman center Tyra Do, weren’t surprised by the lack of hardware.
“In general men’s sports get more attention than women’s sports so I’m not too surprised by not getting anything.” said Do.
Consolation brackets were designed to still give teams a chance to compete for something. Players like freshman guard Alyssa Perez felt the team should’ve received more than a ball for competing.
“I think it’s unfair because they (the NJCAA) are ignoring the fact that the teams who won 7th and 5th lost a tournament game and still bounced back to finish as 7th and 5th in the nation.” Perez said.
Freshman forward Marlena Arroyo-Plata echoed the entire team’s positivity despite only getting a ball that can be bought at any local sports store.
“I wish we got something to take home but the fact that we got to be regional champions and play in the national tournament was an unforgettable experience.” Arroyo-Plata said.
“It sucks, but when you work in women’s sports, you unfortunately expect things like this to happen. You get the short end of things.” head coach Todd Holthaus said.
Athletic Director Jim Monaco and the NJCAA were not available for comment at the time of this writing.