The Falcons played in the Western Wisconsin Women’s Basketball League in Osseo WI during the summer of 2009. The team was made up of several returing players and recruits along with a few other area standout players.
The Falcons finished fourth out of four teams in this league with a record of 3-7.
UW Stout 8-2- CHAMPS
UW Superior 5-5
Chippewa Valley All Stars 4-6
UW River Falls 3-7
Here is an article the Eau Claire Leader Telegram did on the league.
Women’s college basketball: Area standouts on display in Osseo
|By John Casper Jr.|
|OSSEO – When a lack of interest threatened to take away a valuable offseason endeavor for his players, UW-Superior women’s basketball coach Don Mulhern looked to Chuck Gregorich to keep it going.Gregorich, father of three former standouts at Altoona and a fixture in the local girls basketball scene, didn’t let him down. And that’s why Thursdays this summer at the Osseo-Fairchild gymnasium, you can find some of the best women’s basketball players the Chippewa Valley has to offer.
Gregorich runs the Western Wisconsin Women’s Basketball League, a summer league for college players. It’s more organized than an open gym, gives future and current teammates a chance to bond in a competitive atmosphere and offers an opportunity for others a chance to regularly play at a high level. Although it plans to expand next year, the league has just four teams this year – one from UW-River Falls, one from UW-Stout, one from UW-Superior and a Chippewa Valley All-Stars team made up of Division II and III players, including some from as far away as Marshfield.
There are two more weeks left in the season. The games are played at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. Thursdays at Osseo-Fairchild, and the public is welcome to attend.
“I think it’s invaluable,” said Mulhern, who called the Eau Claire area a “hotbed” for girls basketball. “There are plenty of college women who want to play and get better. This is a chance for them to have two months of playing competitive basketball against really good Division II and DIII level players.”
Sarah Pollock, a former UW-River Falls player, ran what was called the St. Croix Valley Women’s Basketball League from 2003-’08 at River Falls High School. For the first five years, she said as many as 11 teams participated each season, but that number dropped to seven in 2008. This year, she received interest from just five. With the rental costs for the high school gym and the low number of teams, Pollock decided not to run it.
That’s when Mulhern turned to Gregorich.
“I just mentioned to him that he might be a guy who would want to do it,” said Mulhern, who as a coach can have nothing to do with the actual setting up of the league, hence the need for an outside party to intervene. “He communicated with her as to how she did it, and he set the whole thing up.”
Osseo-Fairchild allowed use of the gym for a small fee. Gregorich enlisted Butch Olson to help with gym set-up and scheduling the referees. In a matter of weeks, the league was set.
Each team plays two games every Thursday. It’s only for Division II and III players; NCAA regulations won’t allow Division I players on scholarship. High school teams aren’t allowed in the league to ensure each game is competitive. The school coaches are allowed to watch, although they can’t instruct. The teams themselves don’t have summer coaches unlike high school summer leagues.
There’s a scoreboard and running clock, and although wins and losses aren’t the main motivating factors, winning still is important.
“I’m a pretty competitive person so any game I play in I’m here to win,” said UW-Stout forward Julia Hirssig, a first-team all-Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference selection.
The games allow for new teammates to bond. Several incoming recruits are playing with their new teammates, such as Eau Claire Regis’ Casteele Miller, who is playing with the UW-Superior entry and Spring Valley’s Kimmy Keehr, who is playing with UW-Stout.
“It’s been a really good thing for the recruits to play with the returning kids,” Gregorich said. “You can see the growth of those kids just from the first week of not moving well, getting adjusted to now, making aggressive moves to the ball.”
Former Chippewa Falls guard Andrea Ruf spent her first year of college at UW-Eau Claire before deciding she wanted to play again. She transferred to UW-River Falls, and the summer games give her a chance to bond with her new teammates, including Altoona’s Brittany and Tiffany Gregorich – Chuck’s daughters – and Jenna Hanson, who will have one more year of eligibility remaining.
“I wanted to play,” Ruf said. “I love being on a team and having friends on a team. It’s not even so much the workout that’s the best part, it’s just being on a team. It’s a good time. I like it.”
Others just do it to stay involved with basketball over the summer. Eau Claire North’s Whitney Rawdon will play at Division II Northwest Missouri State next year. She doesn’t have any future teammates here but still enjoys playing with the Chippewa Valley All-Stars entry, which includes Colfax’s Courtney Doucette (a Minnesota-Duluth recruit) and Marshfield’s Katie Wolff (a Winona State recruit).
“I just needed to get some sort of basketball to get a feel for it,” she said. “My coaches encourage it. Anything basketball related, they encourage it.”
Gregorich hopes the league will grow in the future. UW-Eau Claire was already committed to play in a league in the Minneapolis area this summer but will join the league next year. He’s hoping to add teams from UW-La Crosse, Viterbo, Winona State and St. Mary’s in Minnesota as well.
“As long as my kids are involved, it’s no big deal,” Gregorich said. “We aren’t doing this to make money. It’s for the kids.”
If the league didn’t exist, teams would be forced to schedule open gyms on their own, which can lead to disorganized play.
“It’s nice to get out here because it’s a higher-level intensity,” Hirssig said. “We want to do this. We really do. It’s a lot of fun coming out here and playing against these other girls.”
The league isn’t unique. There are leagues for men and women in the Minneapolis area. The UW-Eau Claire men play in a league in Chippewa Falls, which mostly is composed of current Blugolds and past Division III players in the area. But the Western Women’s Basketball League prides itself on being a bit more competitive than others.
“It’s a great opportunity to hone themselves in the offseason,” Mulhern said. “A lot of time there’s opportunities for men. This is a good chance for women to get an opportunity to get better and help bring women’s basketball in this area to the next level.”
See picture below. What is Taylor House laughing about?