Mercer women’s basketball team filled with new faces
October 29, 2015
Ciarra Edwards (Junior Transfer):
Ciarra Edwards transferred from Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to play for head coach Susan Gardner.
Though she bonded with her teammates almost instantly, Edwards said it was hard at first because she felt like a freshman all over again.
“It was actually an awkward feeling at first. Because being the older on the team it would seem that I would know what’s going on and be ahead but it kinda felt like being a freshman all over again,” Edwards said.
The palpable difference between Shelton State and Mercer that Edwards noted was the fast paced feeling of being on the team. The practices, weights, and the urgency to get better each day were all novel.
“I have learned that when you you work to get better everyday it’s not just for you. It’s for all your teammates. Because if you are successful at what you do then the team is successful,” Edwards said.
Keke Calloway is from Forsyth, Georgia. Though she did not travel far from home for college, she said the experience has already changed her.
“The most unexpected part of being on this team was how well we connected so soon,” Calloway said.
Being on this team has differed from high school. The players here can rely on each other, Calloway said.
“This team has made me work harder because everyone on the team is respectably good so each day I’m forced to push myself and work hard or else I’ll get exposed.”
Though Calloway misses seeing her family every day, the team has become her second family.
Her favorite moment was when “Rachel hit the folks in the middle of the circle by herself at Mercer Madness,” Calloway said.
Callie Hackett (Freshman):
Callie Hackett is a freshman out of Carthage, Tennessee. Hackett’s transition to college life has been hard, she said, but her teammates have made it seamless.
“They’ve made me realize it’s okay to step out of my comfort zone,” she said.
Hackett said that the team is young and enthusiastic to improve, which makes the atmosphere competitive, but also highly supportive.
Hackett said her favorite moment of the season has been when she got her first tattoo and her whole team came to support her. She plans to major in Math and Secondary Education.
Hacket says she is pining for home, and especially her Mema’s cooking—but the team is “practically like family already.”
Kyesha Lewis (Freshman):
Forward Kyesha Lewis is from Springfield, GA. Lewis had an impressive high school career, being named Player of the Year two consecutive years and playing on the prestigious FGB Club Team in Georgia.
Lewis spoke excitedly about the youthful streak that defines the Women’s Basketball team this season.
“We are pretty young which gives us time to grow together and bond. It gives us the ability to be as versatile as we want to be,” Lewis said.
Though Lewis expressed that managing time between practices and academics has made it difficult “to fit sleeping and eating into the schedule,” she says the team has been an incredible support system away from home.
It’s like having “family away from home that will be there and look out for you no matter what,” Lewis said.
Linnea Rosendal (Freshman):
“The most unexpected part of coming to this team is Kahlia’s dancing in the locker room,” said freshman Linnea Rosendal, who travelled all the way from Sweden to play for Coach Gardner.
Though being away from home has presented certain challenges like the differences in cuisine (Rosendal noted that “we don’t eat fried food like you do here”), she said that her teammates have made her feel at home.
“People are much more outgoing to people they don’t know here compared to Sweden. In Sweden we are more shy to talk to new people,” Rosendal explained.
Rosendal says she is excited about what this season will bring.
She noted that the most exciting part of this year was when “Coach Gardner cancelled the last workout of conditioning.”
Rachel Selph (Freshman) :
Rachel Selph is a Center out of Eastman, GA. Standing at 6’3”, Selph has the ability to make an impact on Mercer’s young team.
Selph said that basketball has always been her passion, but having a team this fun to enjoy it with has made it even more enjoyable.
“Basketball has been something that I have enjoyed doing since I was little, and being apart of a team that is so much fun to be around makes it even more fun,” Selph said.
Despite the grueling conditioning and long practices, Selph has found motivation by being with her teammates.
“The sophomores have been great. They have been very encouraging and I have really enjoyed playing with them,” Selph said.
Selph said her favorite part of the season has been dancing with her teammates at Mercer Madness to kick off the 2015 basketball season.
Amanda Thompson (Freshman):
Amanda Thompson hails from Hayesville, North Carolina. Despite lettering in track, soccer and golf, Thompson realized early that her passion was basketball.
In addition to being an accomplished athlete, Thompson was the President of the National Honor Society and a National Merit Scholar. She plans to major in Chemical Commerce.
Thompson said the best part of being on this team is the mix of cultures she has encountered.
“We are all from different places and have different backgrounds. Being around them has made me more aware of people and cultures different form mine. I’m even learning a little Swedish!”
Though she has loved her time at Mercer so far, Thompson still pines for home from time to time.
“I miss my parents, and the mountains,“ Thompson said. “Back home the leaves are starting to change and when my friends post pictures I really miss it.”
Ally Welch (Freshman):
Ally Welch, a freshman out of Cumming, GA, says being a collegiate athlete for the first time has pushed her.
“I have learned to push my limits beyond what I have ever had to experience,” Welch said.
Welch explained that the practices have been physically and mentally challenging, but that the pressure is welcomed because the team keeps things upbeat and positive.
“Being on a D-1 collegiate team is pushing me because I understand the expectations and am surrounded by amazing athletes on my team,” Welch said.
The moments of success with her team during practice have been the best part, Welch said.
With SoCon competition approaching quickly, Welch says she is “looking forward to the first minutes in that jersey playing with this team.”
All photos provided by Mercer Athletics.