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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Scout Team

Minnesota State assistant coaches Amy Sander and Ketty
Paula (left) discuss a play for the Scout Team. Photo
courtesy of freshman guard Maddie Olson.
Prior to each tipoff, the Minnesota State women's basketball team spends several hours on preparation for their upcoming opponent. 

While the Mavericks are also attending classes, the hours getting ready to play games are spent watching video, rehabbing injuries, studying game plans and practicing. And a large amount of time is spent going over the upcoming opponents. 

For the past three seasons, Minnesota State has delegated a part of this task (the opponents part) to the student body in the form of the scout team. The scout team is comprised of a group of students that volunteer their time for Maverick practices. During practice, the scout team primarily learns and runs plays of upcoming Maverick opponents. Additionally, these student volunteers mimic tendencies of key players and assist with drills in practice. This season, around five to eight scout team players serve on the scout team at a given session.

Utilizing student volunteers for scout teams is a fairly common practice in collegiate women’s basketball. In her eight years as an assistant coach at the NCAA Division I level, head coach Emilee Thiesse was a member of staffs that used scout teams consistently. The same goes for her program here at Minnesota State where she incorporates a scout team with the understanding of how it benefits her team. 

“If we didn’t have a scout team, we would have to use our own players to run the opponent’s offensive schemes—which takes time from our overall preparation and also limits the number of reps that our players are actually defending the actions,” said Thiesse, who took over the Maverick program in 2012-13 after serving as an assistant coach at South Dakota State and Drake.

Though the Mavericks benefit from the scout team, the student volunteers derive enjoyment from their own service as well. “I’ve been surprised how much I miss being in a practice atmosphere,” says graduate sport management student Zach Miner. Along with the atmosphere, Miner enjoys the exercise, intentional teaching moments, and the opportunity to play his favorite sport competitively. With these benefits, a common theme underlies the main motivation of the scout team players—to help the Mavericks improve. Engineering student D’Ante Ross affirms, “I just love helping out the team.”

The value of having students volunteer on the scout team is not lost on Maverick players and coaching staff. “We're grateful for the scout team dedicating their time and effort to make our players compete to the best of their ability” said graduate assistant Kelsey Little. Coach Thiesse added, “Our players appreciate them very much. They understand the commitment that the scout team is making on a volunteer basis and that [the scout team volunteers] are committing to the grind of practices without the reward of the games.”

In the past, the Maverick women’s basketball coaching staff has relied on word of mouth to assemble student volunteers. Minnesota State students with previous playing experience and some schedule flexibility are encouraged to give it a shot. If Minnesota State students are interested in potentially volunteering on the scout team, they can contact assistant coaches Ketty Paula or Amy Sander
                                                                            Contributed by Tyler Hajek, Minnesota State Athletic Communications intern

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