KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As coach after coach comes to the podium to discuss the upcoming season, Kendey Eaton is content staying quiet.
She sits in the bleachers of the College Basketball Experience staying attentive Wednesday minutes after her team was predicted to finish 10th in the MIAA by the league’s coaches at MIAA Media Day.
On Tuesday, the senior spoke with the Northwest women’s basketball coaching staff about her leadership style heading into her final year, and it’s not to surprise she prefers to let her work speak for itself.
“I’m more of a lead-by-example kind of person. I’m not the most vocal, so they said to find what’s a leader for yourself,” Eaton said. “That’s working really hard, getting in the gym a lot and getting people in there with me.”
Eaton is part of a group of guards, including junior Jaelyn Haggard and senior Erica Schlosser, that hope to continue a resurgence to better the program for the future.
“The main goal for us is to translate some of those really close games we had last year,” Eaton said, “to get over the edge and win those games … to turn the corner, in a way, for this program.”
Northwest finished 8-20 a season ago behind more than 12 points per game from Eaton and Haggard, whose season ended with a leg injury in a win against Missouri Western.
“She’s been great for us. It was a tough injury,” head coach Austin Meyer said. “She was playing at a really high level. She had a really good summer. I know she was in the gym and getting, and it’s shown for us. We’re excited about where she can be this year.”
Haggard brings a different leadership mentality to the floor, serving as one of the most vocal leaders on a Bearcat roster with nine freshmen, sxi juniors and two seniors.
While both will serve important roles, Meyer looks to Eaton to show the newcomers the work it takes in behind closed doors to lift the Bearcats.
“I know she works as hard as anybody. Kids see how much she’s in the gym and how hard she’s going in practice,” Meyer said. “So when she speaks, it means something.”
Western ready for start of Whitaker era
Missouri Western was tabbed 11th by MIAA coaches as they prepare to venture into the first year under Candi Whitaker with three starting spots needing filled.
One spot for certain is that of Katrina Roenfeldt, the first-team All-MIAA senior guard who led the MIAA in 3-point shooting and was second in steals. Averaging better than 16 points and five rebounds per game, Roenfeldt was done nothing but impress her new coach.
“KT has fantastic experience, is a mature, veteran player that’s very talented. Making sure KT stays very confident is important to me,” Whitaker said. “There’s no deficiencies in her game. Equally important has been her leadership.
“She is someone who understands this is her team, she’s gotta control the locker room and help me in controlling mindset and how we’re gonna attack everyday.”
While the Griffons will replace three seniors, led by point guard Melia Richardson, seven transfers, one freshman and a host of newcomers with experience will look to fill the void.
Anastacia Johnson and Simone Walker proved to be among the team’s top contributors when they received action under Rob Edmisson. Regardless of returning experience, the Griffons aim to take the floor every night with intent of leaving with a tally in the win column.
“I believe in expectations. We will have expectations internally on our program, and they will be high,” Whitaker said. “That is what our mentality should be.”