By Kyle Foster, photo courtesy of Natalie Syverson (nataliesyverson.com)
Twitter: @NapaKyle @NapaSportsLive
It’s been two years since Napa Valley College has had a women’s basketball team — this season there will be a team however.
“One of the things I’ve really tried to tell the girls is we really can’t worry about what was before us,” Napa Valley College women’s basketball coach Brian Fonseca explained of the team dealing with the fact NVC hasn’t had women’s basketball in two years. “All we can do is take care of us now, I think though the perception is from other schools that I don’t know how serious they’re going to take us — so in that sense we’re a little bit of trail blazers going through it the first time. I haven’t really worried about it too much — I’m a little bit Mark McGwire here not worry about the past, and worry about the future, we can’t really worry about those, and just get out there and make sure we handle ourselves well and compete, and like I say ‘really get rolling’ — the idea is to really get rolling and get better by the time we roll into conference play.”
Fonseca was hired by Jerry Dunlap, Associate Dean of physical education, and athletics last year — since that time him and Dunlap have been working on getting a team together. They were able to get eight players for this years team.
“Jerry was a big help we had a showcase in September, so that was nice to host some things,” Fonseca explained of Dunlap, and his efforts on getting the team to happen. “I really think it’s going to take off when we start playing — the hardest part even for me last year was it’s kinda hard to sell something that doesn’t exist yet. It was a challenge, because people would use that against us in recruiting, so it was really a challenge, and Jerry’s been a big help. I also spent to our girls, I appreciate the girls are kinda willing to be the first. ‘There’s a line in moneyball ‘It’s always the first one through the wall who takes it the hardest’, you know we’re the first group, so it’s definitely going to be challenging, no one’s feeling sorry for us.”
The team consists of a lot of local students from Napa, and Solano Counties. The Napa County players are: Alyvia Trzesniewski a 2015 Napa High graduate, Alyssa Mick-Mckinzie who graduated from Justin-Siena last year, Amy Christensen who graduated from Vintage last year, and A’janae Lyles who went to New Technology High School in Napa. There’s three girls from Solano County on the team, and they are: Ajoloni Ivin, Donjanique Washington, and Kierra Mackenzie. Katie Depp is the lone person from Lake County, and is a Middletown High School graduate.
“Everything is a process, I would say, and I would say that we’re just steadily, steadily, making some inroads,” Fonseca explained of getting the local players on the roster. “Having Alyssa, Alyvia, and Amy that’s a big part of what we want to build, we want to have local girls feeling like this is a great option for them. You always grow up wanting to play here, so that for me is a process, seeing is playing. Those three are definitely a great start in kinda building a rock solid program.”
Trzesniewski and Mick-Mckinzie are expected to carry the load for the Storm this season. They are also going to be leaders according to Fonseca.
“The one things Trez brings is you know playing at Solano, she has some experience with the lights on, so that’s what we’re really hoping that her experience shines through in leadership,” Fonseca explained of the leadership of a few of his players. “Alyssa’s played in some big games, we’re expecting big things from her.”
The Storm will open up the season against LA Trade Tech who is one of the top teams in the state in the Cosumnes River tournament in Elk Grove on November 9th. They will also play in the Modesto Junior College tournament November 30th through December 2nd, and host the Storm Classic December 18th, and 19th in Napa.
“Ironically this might be one of our toughest games early, the LA Trade Tech game,” Fonseca explained of their opener, and the preseason slate. “It’ll definitely prepare us, you know one of the things in looking at running a program power ratings are important, you know who you play, so we really tried to balance the schedule the best we could. You know this tournament (Cosumnes River) is kinda interesting because there’s some top teams.”
Over the summer Napa Valley played some non-traditional season games, and hosted a showcase. There was a lot learned about the team during those times.
“Well what I think what really helped me was to get a feel for what the girls, what their game looks like when it’s lice, you know it’s hard to get a feel for that in practice or in class,” Fonseca explained of the Storm’s most recent time playing in a real life game situation. “It also gave me a feel for what other teams are like too. It was just a great kinda learning experience, the experience was the best part of something like that. A little feel for the girls, a little feel for the officials, feel for opponents.”
The Storm will have their first home game on November 21st against Monterey Peninsula-Monterey on November 21st. It’s a game Fonseca looks forward to since it’s their first stand alone game of the season.
“They’ve been a solid program over the years,” Fonseca explained of the Storm’s first home opponent. “They were nice enough we were supposed to go there last year, they were willing to come play us, so we thought we’d take that — that’s the week of Thanksgiving, that’s another chance for us to get our kinks worked out at a home game, and again a chance for us to see people that’s right before Thanksgiving, I like to play on Tuesday, and then get ready for the week.”
Napa Valley will open up the Bay Valley Conference portion of the season against Merritt-Oakland on December 29th. They’ll face conference face conference favorite Solano-Fairfield January 9th in Fairfield, and February 7th in Napa. For the rest of the schedule go here.
“Solano has been the team to beat, they’ve had a really good program, they’re ranked in the top — I think they’re 13th in the preseason poll,” Fonseca explained ofthe BVC. “They’re very good, they’ve been very good here historically, right now they’ve kinda set the bar. The last couple years Laney (Oakland), and Merritt have been very good, Yuba (Marysville) has been in that mix, my predecessor is now at Contra Costa (San Pablo), so I would put Yuba, Laney, Merritt, Contra Costa as maybe the teams to beat. We’ve got to slowly, slowly handle business, just because it’s a nine-team league we we need to win as many as we can.”
Fonseca knows basketball, but when he was hired by Dunlap he found out he had to learn the little nuances of the game with women as opposed to men. He’s learned from local coaches like Andrew Bettencourt of Justin-Siena, Joe Donahoe of Vintage, and Darci Ward of Napa High to learn those quirks.
“I really watched them a lot, and listened and learned,” the coach explained of watching the local high school coaches. “I don’t think it’s anything major that jumps out, it’s just nuances, you know there are just different nuances. The shot clock is a little bit different, the rules are a little bit different, you know we play the four quarters now, so it’s all all a little bit of nuances of the game, you know even the coaching styles are a little bit different.”