Women’s Basketball Gets a Helping Hand
January 27, 2021 | By Dawson Forcella
Briar Cliff Women’s basketball has a new leader this year in Head Coach Brita Hand. In Hand’s first season at the helm the Lady Chargers have undergone a transformation for the better.
Finishing ninth in the Great Plains Athletic Conference last year, Briar Cliff University had a record of 11-19, going 8-14 in conference games. With five games left in the season, the team is now sitting at 13-7, and 11-6 in conference play. They currently rank fourth in the GPAC standings.
Before taking the Head Coaching job at BCU, Hand served as the Head Assistant Coach and Recruiting Coordinator at William Penn University in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Prior to that she filled similar roles at Illinois College and Truman State University.
Considered an up and coming coaching prospect, Hand was named on the WBCA (Women’s Basketball Coaching Association) Thirty Under Thirty list for the 2019-20 season. She was one of two NAIA coaches on the list.
When Briar Cliff announced they had a coaching vacancy Hand seized the opportunity.
“Briar Cliff is a great place to be,” says Hand. “I was excited to have an opportunity to come here.”
Coming into her debut season as a head coach, Hand anticipated some obstacles, but was prepared. “The biggest challenge any new coach faces is getting kids to buy in and believe in what you are trying to do,” she added
Among the standards she has set for her players, a large focus has been on being present in the moment and giving maximum effort.
“We ask them to work hard and give their best effort while they are there, to get one percent better every day,” the head coach says. “We ask them when you are here, be here, be focused. Don’t worry about things you can’t control.”
While effort and focus are cornerstones of Hand’s philosophy, she doesn’t forget about the importance of chemistry and fun according to junior center, Madelyn Deitchler.
“It is really important to her that we get along both on and off the court, and have good chemistry and just to have fun,” Deitchler says. “She wants to create a fun atmosphere that people like and enjoy.”
According to Hand, the turnaround has been in large part due to the resilience of her players as well as their willingness to put in the work. “We came in and asked them to work hard and buy in,” Hand says. “And they have done those things, which is awesome.”
In a hectic first season as the head coach of the women’s basketball team, Hand has found success. Challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic have already led to one canceled game this season. While there can be many distractions, Hand stressed the importance of perspective in these unprecedented times.
“With Covid, nothing is guaranteed. So we are just trying to take it one day at a time, and one game at a time,” she says.
The next outing for women’s basketball will be against Dakota Wesleyan on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. at the Newman Flanagan Center.