Strong Team Chemistry Leads To Success For Women’s Club Basketball Team


Published February 7, 2022
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The Montclarion
Family mentality and team chemistry mean a lot to the Montclair State women's club basketball team. Photo courtesy of Kayla Fletcher

It’s not just the men’s club basketball team here at Montclair State University that has been successful.

The women’s club basketball team, headed by student coach Kayla Fletcher, currently has a 4-0 record both overall and in the Mid-Atlantic East Conference as well, with huge wins against Lehigh University out of Pennsylvania and a familiar foe in the Rowan University Profs.

Senior guard Lisa Cohen spoke about how strong the team chemistry was against their contests in Glassboro, New Jersey.

“The courts they have us play on is in their [recreation] center,” Cohen said. “There was an open gym happening on the other side and we constantly saw the other people [looking over at us] because we were so loud. The chemistry was amazing. People were walking over, looking through the divider and sitting and watching us because they were mesmerized by what was happening.”

Montclair State recently had some key wins against the club team in Lehigh, Pennsylvania

Montclair State recently had some key wins against the club team at Lehigh University.
Photo courtesy of Kayla Fletcher

Something spectators can be mesmerized by is Cohen’s defense in recent games this season. Cohen has notched two steals in three straight games against St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Lehigh as well. Cohen emphasized how important defending the ball is to her.

“I think defense is my strongest suit, and everyone on the team can agree with that,” Cohen said. “I have a way of being able to control the defense and envision what is going to happen by the other team before it even happens. I think that impacts the team, our chemistry and the game as a whole.”

Head student coach Kayla Fletcher built her team from the ground up

Head student coach Kayla Fletcher built her team from the ground up.
Photo courtesy of Kayla Fletcher

Fletcher has had a tremendous impact on the team over the last few seasons. Back in 2019 and before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the team was not in a good place on paper, with a 4-6-2 record in addition to coming second to last in the Mid-Atlantic East Conference. But with the help of Fletcher and Cohen, they built up the women’s club basketball team into what it is today.

“We had absolutely nothing, so it all came down to team building,” Fletcher said. “I got hurt, so I took the coaching role, and we started building the team around players who show good sportsmanship and a good attitude. Obviously, I looked for skill, too, but it goes way beyond that.”

Members of the Montclair State women's basketball club team pose for a picture

Members of the Montclair State women’s basketball club team pose for a picture.
Photo courtesy of Kayla Fletcher

Team bonding and chemistry are paramount to their success here on campus. This applies especially to the women’s club basketball team. Fletcher does not make her team sit around and throw up jump shots. They work hard on in-game situations every single practice.

One player who has reaped the benefits of working hard for the team every day is junior forward Jada Baker. Baker not only leads the team in points per game, (with over 14 points per game), but she also recently won Player of the Week honors for the club team. This is one of the rewards they give as a way to feel good about putting in the work. Baker speaks on how she is shooting so efficiently this season.

“It starts with putting in work in the gym, as much as possible,” Baker said. “That’s what helps keep my shot consistent as well as staying focused and being ready at every practice. And, my teammates also help because they’re very encouraging and always picking you up. If you miss a shot, it’s no big deal. You go back on defense and take another shot in the next possession.”

Baker also highlighted that every girl is essential to the team, and talked about how during one of the games at Rowan, Cohen made a three-pointer. Because of her defensive playstyle, something like that doesn’t happen often, so the girls on the bench went crazy. It’s moments like that which help the players’ confidence.

Jada Baker and Danijela Markanovic (top and bottom right) are two key players for the women's club basketball team

Jada Baker and Danijela Markanovic (top and bottom right) are two key players for the women’s club basketball team.
Photo courtesy of Kayla Fletcher

Junior center Danijela Markanovic also has a lot of confidence being that she is the tallest and the true center on the team. She is averaging close to nine points per game and even had four steals in a game against St. Joseph’s University.

Markanovic spoke on what helps her offensive playstyle.

“You have to treat the ball like it’s your baby,” Markanovic said. “Obviously, height comes at an advantage, but it also doesn’t matter since [Baker] is 5 foot 9 [inches] and she averages 14 points a game. You also have to talk loud, and control the girls, or else it won’t work out.”

With games against The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), Villanova University and Iona College coming up in their schedule, they all want anyone interested to come out to the games and support the squad. It can only further build their family chemistry, as Cohen touches upon.

“You have to come to one of our games to truly experience what it is we’re saying,” Cohen said. “Everyone sounds amazed when we talk about our team, but it isn’t enough to just talk about it, but rather to see a game in person.”

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