UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | July 18, 2024

Women’s basketball eager to move past last season, focus on the future

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The women’s basketball team is focused on moving forward from last year’s strife as the season approaches.

Catherria Turner began her time as head women’s basketball coach for Dixie State University last season, and several of her former players came forward with allegations of discrimination from Turner toward them. Both current and former players are working on putting the past behind them, and this season’s team is focusing on the coming season with a positive outlook.

Kaylah Miller, a senior communication major from San Diego who is still on the team, said the experience of last season has brought teammates closer together and brought about good change. Miller said rather than being held back by past events, having a background to work from will move the team forward.

“I think that what happened last year affected the team this year, [but] it was more beneficial than not,” Miller said. “When the new players were coming in, [the coaches] told them ahead of time what kind of happened. The girls read the stories [and] everybody knew what happened last year. [Turner] didn’t want anybody blindsided this year.”

Athletic Director Jason Boothe said an investigation was done within the department after the accusations against Turner were brought to the his attention, and nothing was found that warranted action from the department on the status of Turner.

“There are certainly lessons learned for us and for the coach that … if something similar were to occur, we have to handle it probably the same way we did,” Boothe said. “We did not find anything that the coach did wrong otherwise we would have handled it differently.”

Boothe said all the proper procedures and policies that are in place by the athletic department and DSU were followed for handling of the situation.

Former player Austen Harris, a senior integrated studies major from Phoenix, said she thinks that more serious actions should have been taken with Turner, but she is also turning her focuses elsewhere.

“I’m not able to play basketball anymore,” Harris said. “I don’t have opportunities to go any other place to play … Now I’m just focusing on school and graduating.”

Harris said she and her family are planning to pursue legal action in the future. Harris said she is “definitely not over it” and that Turner’s choice to dismiss Harris from the team last season potentially ruined her basketball career.

Team camaraderie right now is better than before despite last season’s issues said Taylor Maynes, a senior business major from Salome, Arizona. Even with many new players again, this year Maynes said she doesn’t see something like last season happening again.

“Last year there was no foundation set,” Maynes said. “It was a whole new program [and] new coaching staff … The coaching staff knows what to expect from their players and we know what to expect from our coaches. Now we have a foundation to build on.”

Miller said it was not surprising to her that some girls were dismissed or quit last season, and that it can happen with any coach.

“There are just certain coaches and playing styles and players that don’t mix well, and I think that’s just kind of what happens in collegiate sports, period,” Miller said. “Whether it’s football, basketball, volleyball, I think it just kind of happens. Certain people don’t like certain coaches, certain coaches don’t like certain players.”

Current members of the team are confident they can put serious issues like this behind them and focus on being a better team.

“We’ve set it behind us after the season last year, as a team,” Maynes said. “There have been other things that have come up that we’ve had to face … but we haven’t mentioned it, we don’t talk about it — we just are moving on and looking forward to this season.” 

Vika Havili, a junior integrated studies major from Salt Lake City, quit the team last season because she felt treatment of some players was unfair and Turner exercised favoritism. 

“For me it took an entire load off my back,” said Havili. “I feel like I’m having more fun. It’s just better — better for me. I’m happy.”