by Senior Airman Matthew Lotz
31st Fighter WIng Public Affairs
12/10/2013 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- The
Aviano Women's Basketball Team took to the court Tuesday night as they
kicked off their season in a match against the 31st Security Forces
With only a two-point loss against the 31st SFS men's over-30 team, this
year's female team hopes to keep the spirit of women's basketball
"I knew this league (over-30 intramural league) would be tough so that
game was a real confidence booster. The ladies fought hard, never quit
nor complained," said William Smith, Aviano Women's Basketball Team head
Due to only a few women's basketball teams in the local area, the Aviano
team will compete in the men's over-30 basketball intramural league,
scrimmage local Italian teams, play in three European tournaments and
compete in the Armed Forces Championships.
"Scrimmaging against the Italian teams and playing in the men's league
will help us accomplish our goals this season," said Ashley Pee, Aviano
Women's Basketball Team guard.
Before the team could score their first point, Smith and his assistant
coach, Tech. Sgt. James Byers held a tryout to build a winning team. The
tryouts were rigorous and open to all women stationed at Aviano.
"I feel that conditioning is a huge part of what the ladies will
endure," said Smith. "They were subjected to dribbling, shooting,
defensive and passing drills. These drills gave my assistant and me a
foundation for what we had to work with. We took what the ladies brought
to the table and focused on how they could help one another become a
Smith's end-of-the-year goals for the team consist of more than just holding a championship trophy over his head.
"Winning is great, but it's not what is most important to me," explained
Smith. "As their coach, I hope that at the end of the season they have
improved their skills and overall knowledge of basketball, but also
develop friendships that extend beyond the lines of the basketball
While the coach's goals for the season are simple, the players have a different approach to their season.
"Having fun is mandatory," said Brittany Williams, Aviano women's
basketball team center. "Winning would be a big plus though. It would be
awesome if we could win it all."
Even though the early competition is tough, the team looks to progress
through various scrimmages to prepare for a February tournament hosted
by Aviano over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend.
According to the team, achieving a winning season takes more than just
work on the court, but a commitment to building team spirit off the
court as well.
"Once we can build that camaraderie within the team, you want to win for
the team and you don't want to let them down," said Shannon. "Some
girls don't have family here, but they should know they can find a small
family in the basketball team."