By Nikki Leonardo
With a new head coach, a new division, and a slew of new players, one might be apprehensive about the upcoming season. This doesn’t hold true with the Flagler College Women’s basketball team.
“The team is doing very well and embracing challenges, to work hard and learn,” Coach Sherri Abbey-Nowatzki said.
“We don’t have a No. 1 player. We have very talented players and a strong team.”
The Lady Saints return just five players from last year’s squad that was ousted in the second round of the Florida Sun Conference Tournament.
Senior forward Jamie Allenbaugh leads the team into its first year in the NCAA. Allenbaugh has been the most consistent player the Lady Saints have had since her transfer from West Virginia Wesleyan College two years ago. She was named Florida Sun Conference Player of the Year last season when she averaged 15.9 points per game and 8.8 rebounds per game.
Also returning is junior forward Brittany Garmon. Garmon averaged 13.7 ppg and 8.7 rpg. and started all but three of the Lady Saints’ games last year.
Alicia Ramsdell, Danielle Boone and Christy Forsyth round out the returnees. Forsyth started 10 games last year, Ramsdell started nine.
“We are trying to build a program. We’re getting better everyday,” Abbey-Nowatzki said. “We are still trying to gel as a team.”
Having only five returnees makes the incoming class even more important. Abbey-Nowatzki has brought in seven new players to round out this year’s team. Melanie Aguila is a junior transfer guard from Orlando and attended Palm Beach Atlantic last year. Freshman guard Lauren Bailie comes to Flagler as a four time all county selection at Loganville High School in Georgia.
Freshman Jalisa Foster will play in the post for the Lady Saints after averaging 18 ppg her senior year at Pinellas Park High. Freshman guard Kortne Jackson averaged nine points and four steals per game at Broad Run HS in Ashburn, Virginia.
Sophomore forward Elizabeth Tuzzolo transfers to Flagler from Drexel University where she played in two games. Freshman guard Karlyn Reddish also joins the team.
With a tough, competitive schedule, the team will have their hands full with schools like North Florida, Florida Gulf Coast and Southeastern University.
“Our whole schedule is tough,” Garmon said. “They are all good teams.”
Allenbaugh is most looking forward to playing Webber International.
“Webber is our main rival because they were the last team we played and lost by one point at the buzzer,” she said.
Even though Abbey-Nowatzki doesn’t have a preference of who they play, Rollins College is a team she and the players are looking forward to competing against.
“The coach has been there for over 20 years,” student assistant Aaron Stewart said. “They are a high standard women’s team.”
Even though they are transitioning into a new division, have a new head coach, and over half the team is new, they are optimistic about the season and have high expectations for themselves.
“We are looking to get better everyday,” Abbey-Nowatzki said.
And the players feel the same way.
“Our expectations overall is to work as a team, try to beat our old record, and to adjust to playing at the next level,” Jackson said.