Women’s basketball seniors leave legacy of hard work, welcoming atmosphere, set up future success

2019-20 CWRU seniors Kendall McConico, Alicia Marie Gonzales and Melissa Heath.

By: Eddie Kerekes, Sports Information Assistant

For the Case Western Reserve University women's basketball team, the 2019-20 season was set up to build on their 15-win 2018-19 season. After a few early-season losses, the team was exceeding expectations in the middle of the season. At home in the middle of January, the Spartans swept Washington University and the University of Chicago, a team that made it to the second round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at the end of the season. With the two wins, CWRU sat in first place in the University Athletic Association with a 3-0 record in league play and an 8-6 record overall.

Senior guard Alicia Marie Gonzales, who started both games that weekend and played in 68 of a possible 80 minutes, called the sweep her favorite memory from her women's basketball career. The other senior on the team, guard Kendall McConico, averaged 7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds, starting both games.

While the rest of the season may not have turned out as well for the team, Gonzales and McConico, along with graduate transfer forward Melissa Heath formed a leadership core. The two seniors helped the Spartans to 42 wins over the last four seasons and created an environment where players work hard, have fun, and do well.

The culture of family, as Gonzales calls it, helped Heath easily transition to life as a CWRU student-athlete after three seasons at Brown.

"The team was honestly amazing," Heath said. "They were so welcoming and really made the transition a lot easier."

Gonzales added that she and McConico "knew how to connect with our teammates on different levels to motivate the group to want to win and work hard."

That culture of hard work and motivation helped the team persevere through some tough losses later in the season, including a one-point, double-overtime loss in the season finale at Carnegie Mellon. Heath added that because of the people around her, the team still could enjoy the tough practices, finishes, and disappointments.

The culture will be the Class of 2020's legacy. Gonzales said, "We are leaving behind a culture of hard work and dedication to our teammates, even when the going gets tough. We showed the underclassmen that when you are on the basketball court, you work as hard as you can for your teammates."

Eventually, that hard work and dedication to their teammates will lead to even more success on the court. Though Heath has only been with the program for one season, she sees success in its future. "I think that every year we'll grow and become better and learn from each other. Even the coaches want this program to be something special and I think it absolutely can," she said. "They will exceed expectations for next season."

To view all of our Spartan Stories, go to https://athletics.case.edu/general/2019-20/releases/20200330fk1oeq.