by Tara Park
For the Nevada women’s basketball team, its efforts to connect with fans extend beyond the court. Despite falling to Pacific 64-53 at home on Tuesday, Dec. 2, the Wolf Pack personally thanked its fans for coming out and supporting them after the game.
“By history, women’s sports have been in the background of men’s sports,” Nevada head coach Jane Albright said. “It shows gratitude to connect with our fans one-on-one.”
In spite of the losing effort, Wolf Pack players Julia Shelbourn and Iman Lathan stressed how supportive the fans are. With less fanfare than the men’s basketball team, the women’s squad uses other methods to reach fans. For one, Nevada has hosted a slew of camps and clinics for children in the community.
“[The camps] are very fun because [the kids] look up to us, and that’s very humbling,” Lathan said. “It reminds you why you play ball.”
For tomorrow’s home game against Stanislaus, the program is partnering with the Washoe County School District for its annual “When I Grow Up” kids game, where hundreds of elementary-school children will take a field trip to support the Wolf Pack.
“We were all those little girls at one point,” Shelbourn said. “It’s great to be on the other side of it, to meet and encourage them.”
Assistant coach Camille Williams led another outreach in the community earlier this season. Williams organized the team to deliver season tickets to fans at their homes.
“The season ticket holders were very excited,” Albright said. “It made us more accessible — really sincerely let people know we appreciate them.”
At the end of the season, an award is given to the player who logs the most community service hours.
For all the team gives back to Reno, Albright feels the community has embraced them, too.
“[The team] plays hard. They share the ball a lot. They work well together. They represent what is really great about college sports,” Albright said. “That’s what people want to see. It’s a good match for our community.”
Nevada bounced back from the loss to Pacific by topping Grand Canyon University 64-52 on the road on Sunday, Dec. 7. After hosting Stanislaus, the Wolf Pack (3-5) will trek to compete in the New Orleans Shootout before opening its conference slate.
Tara Park can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @Uribe_Eric.