Six assistants improve KSU women’s basketball

The six men who practice with the women’s basketball team: Jeff Trottier, Bill Gould, Mark Gockowski, Martell Brown, Nick Datilio and Kyle Bowen. Photo by Brian Smith.

The six men who practice with the women’s basketball team: Jeff Trottier, Bill Gould, Mark Gockowski, Martell Brown, Nick Datilio and Kyle Bowen. Photo by Brian Smith.

Matt Lofgren

Beyond the weekly grind of playing Mid-American Conference opponents, there’s an important aspect of preposition that is usually overlooked by spectators: Practice.

A typical week for the Kent State women’s basketball team consists of four practices throughout the week, depending on the schedule, that usually last for about three hours. During those three hours, the women are pushed by their toughest critics in six students whose sole job at practice is to make them better.

The six practice players include Nick Datilio, sophomore physical education and health major; Kyle Bowen, junior physical education and health major; Jeff Trottier, senior accounting major; Bill Gould, junior electronic media sports production major; Mark Gockowski, freshman broadcast journalism major; Martel Brown, junior physical education major; and freshman Lincoln Woofter, who acts as a team manager. All take time out of their schedules to work with the team to prep for opponents.

“It’s our job to just help them get better,” Bowen said. “We want to be physical and not back away to help them get better.”

Trottier has now been with the team for two seasons and has seen two very different teams in his time as a practice player. From a team loaded with veterans last season to this year’s younger team, Trottier feels he has seen a lot out of this year’s team so far.

“Right from the get go I knew it was going to be a lot harder,” Trottier said. “They had to work a lot more and figure out what was going on. They started to get into the swing of things and picked up the intensity and from there, that’s when they started winning games and getting better on the season.”

Every player has played high school basketball­ —­ including Brown, who played two years of junior college basketball— and use their honed skill set to help push the team.

“I played four years in New Hampshire, where I’m from, and I didn’t know how it was in Ohio, but it was a lot of run-and-gun,” Datilio said. “Here, we just have to get them moving as fast as we can, and it’s really carried over the fact that I grew up playing fast basketball. Here, we have to get them moving as fast as we can and push them.”

Coming in and working for three or more hours every week becomes a grind for the practice players at times, but for the most part, the group enjoys the exercise and competition.

“Coming out here, you’re actually playing legit basketball; it’s not like when you’re at the rec where you can slack off and not play true basketball,” Gould said. “Here, (the women) will make you look silly if you’re actually not paying attention and playing legitimate basketball and where you’re denying, watching where the ball is and getting over to help. I believe it is fun, but it’s also work at times, too.”

Each player brings a high level of intensity, especially Brown. His skills as a junior college basketball player, he feels, can be used to help the team get better.

“I’m a P.E. major, and I want to be a coach when I get done with college,” Brown said. “It’s a learning experience going out there and coaching them.”

All of the players, except Trottier, plan on using the skills and knowledge they learn on the court with the help of the team and coach Bob Lindsay to plan for a career in either coaching or to supplement other careers.

“I’m actually a Sports Administration minor, so I want to see how coaching goes,” Gockowski said. “Coaching might help my life, so I want to see how that will work.”

Contact Matt Lofgren at [email protected] or @MLofgrenDKS