by Maggie Prosser
“I think it’s starting to turn around,” Ms. Ronda Motykowski said. Motykowski explained that all sports teams at Marian have their highs and lows. It’s a continuous cycle of winning and losing spurts.
Marian used to be the “It” school for basketball. Motykowski said the golden years for basketball were from the mid-90s to mid-2000s, although she played at Marian in the early 80s. The teams throughout that era won seven titles including state championships and runner-ups. That is more than half of all the state championships and runner-ups in Marian basketball history beginning in 1978 after Title IX, creating the dawn of NSAA sports. Marian participated in the first 10 state champions consecutively.
The success of the basketball program during this time was largely due to the longevity of the coaches. Now retired math teacher Mr. Roger Wright, previous Athletic Director Mr. Jim Miller, Dean of Student Affairs Ms. Motykowski and math teacher Mrs. Lisa Schmidt were all part of the coaching staff of the past. Wright, Miller and Motykowski coached for more than 30 years each, with Schmidt right behind them for 17 years.
“When you work with someone that long, you know the expectations and you’re on the same page. You have the same formulas for a good program,” Motykowski said. The coaches worked as a team so the girls could work as a team.
Another factor that pushed the basketball program to be its best was the lack of popularity of club sports. There was a transition period between high school sports, club and high school sports and then just club sports. When club sports became popular, girls played high school volleyball during club basketball or soccer season and vice versa. This became a lot to juggle.When club sports started guaranteeing scholarships, girls leaned toward only playing club sports. Right now there are five prominent club basketball teams in Nebraska: All Nebraska Attack, OSA, Team Factory, Midwest Express and Retro. Girls having to balance high school basketball practice at the same time as another club sport reduced the number of multi-sport athletes.
“If you’re an athlete, you just want to play sports,” Motykowski said. That is just what girls from this era did without the stress of club sports. Most basketball players were two or three sport athletes. Multi-sport athletes were popular. It was rare to have a girl who only played basketball.
Girls were less likely to burn out in one sport or get injured. They had a variety of workouts all year long. Practices weren’t competing with each other either.
Out of this era came outstanding female athletes. Cristen Wuebben ‘92 was named Miss Basketball in 1992 by the state of Nebraska. Renee Saunders ‘95 received Nebraska’s Athlete of the Year in 1995 for playing basketball and volleyball.
This year, Marian’s basketball team is looking up. All four teams have a positive outlook on the coming season.
“There’s a lot of talent within all four teams. With the mindset we have right now, we should be successful,” freshman varsity player Celia Hacker said.
With high hopes for the season, the Crusaders hope to be on the right path to revitalize the golden era of basketball.