by Eric Woodyard

The secret to success in the game of basketball is plain and simple: Practice!

The women’s basketball program at Western Michigan University is well aware of this. To get better, the school’s athletic department hires male practice players to help push the females in the many intense practice drills.

“Most schools, including us, want their players to compete against players that are bigger, faster [and] stronger, and often times there aren’t too many females in the normal population that are usually bigger, faster [and] stronger than your scholarship players,” Western Michigan head coach Tasha McDowell said. “So it’s great to have males that know the game and are willing to be a part of a practice squad to benefit the team. It helps us to react quicker, to defend harder and to be able to go against an elite level of athletes.”

This has become an integral piece to the organization, and it is not often recognized. In my spare time, I like to help the team and it is a joy to see them implement the skills that we have worked on in practice into a game. In a sense it’s like coaching… but not quite.

With the help of WMU senior Marcus Voelz behind the camera and the genius of Chyn Wey Lee on the editing, I was able to put together this piece.

Sincerely,
Eric Woodyard-The Flintstone