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Mount Women's Basketball

Ananda Rockita

(2/2010) Practice and talent makes this team perfect.

Many Mount St. Mary's athletes may be on the go to make time for athletics and their education. But the amount of practice devoted to the team not be as easy as it may seem and actually required a lot of dedication to the Division I team.

During season, the average day of a Women's basketball player consists of a lifting session with the team at seven in the morning, classes during the day, short individual shooting with one of the coaches and then an afternoon/evening practice for about two and a half hours, concluding two hours of study hall after dinner. This schedule may seem hectic, but it is what has made the Mount St. Mary's University women's basketball team such a success.

It is obvious if one was to watch a game in the Mount St. Mary's ARCC facility, that the team holds great talent. One of them is Leah Westbrooks, a Junior at Mount St. Mary's, that joined the women's basketball team in the fall of 2007. In her high school campaign, she was named the U-19 National Cup Most Valuable Player in 2006 and nabbed the Irish Basketball Association Junior Player of the Year in 2004. She was also nominated for the Irish Examiner Junior Sports-Star of the Year in 2007.

Junior Leah Westbrooks

It was inevitable that junior Leah Westbrooks an Ireland native would end up playing basketball due to her family's background. Her three older brothers played college basketball in the United States and her youngest brother, a senior in high school, will soon be following the same route as his older siblings. Her father played basketball in college and was recruited to play in Ireland after he graduated.

"His plan was to go for a year and that turned into 2 and then 10 and pretty much the rest is history!" stated Westbrooks.

Westbrooks's basketball career started at the tender age of four, when most kids were just enjoying . Her dad had been running basketball camps in Ireland for over 25 years and at four she attended her first one.

Westbrooks was recruited from her old head coach, Vanessa Blair. Blair's brother had played overseas in Ireland and saw Westbrooks talent through play and from there became interested in the future collegiate player.

"I visited during my senior year and after praying about it, I decided the Mount was for me," stated Westbrooks. "Emmitsburg is what I call small town America but I love it!" Westbrooks comes from the suburbs of Dublin where everything is easily accessible to. However living in Emmitsburg has allowed Westbrooks to appreciate the place and the people that are a bit different to her home life.

During the previous season of 2008-09, Westbrooks made an impressive impact to the team. She started in all thirty games as a sophomore with an average of about nine points with about seven rebounds per game.

Mary Dunn

For another Mount Saint Mary's women's basketball player, her path was a tad different. Mary Dunn comes from Belleville, N.J. Dunn started playing the sport in the third grade. Her family remained extremely influential in her playing basketball in college. Both of her sisters played college basketball and have helped her with the college basketball process and how to deal with some situations within in. Her dad was also a collegiate athlete playing baseball in college who actually helped her on her path to the Mount today.

"I've played for my dad as my coach for my entire life, whether it be for CYO (catholic youth), AAU tournaments, or fall ball leagues," stated Dunn. "My dad never gave me special treatment on the court, actually, he was my harshest critic. He always expected me to play as best as I could at all times."

In high school, Dunn was named a candidate for the McDonald's All American All-Star Classic and also named Morris County Coachers Player of the Year honors in her senior year. She also left her high school as the all-time leading scorer with 1,804 points, with this she became the first player in her school team's history to have her jersey number retired.

Dunn came to Mount St. Mary's because of the small school atmosphere and also enjoyed the fact it was similar to the high school she came from. As for the town the school is in, she was not too sure at first about Emmitsburg. But realized how much she enjoys the closeness of the community after being in it for the past few years.

"The town kind of revolves around the school, and that's a cool feeling to run into people at Otts, Smoke House Alley, or the Jubilee and have someone from town ask how the seasons going, or congratulate us on a win," stated Dunn. Despite the most recent game loss against Long Island, Dunn still posted nine points to the score.

Other than some juniors making an impact to the team there are also five new freshmen additions to the Mount St. Mary's University women's basketball team. Selina Mann is one of these freshmen. In high school, she scored 1,398 points during her years, leaving as an impressive all-time leader in points, assists, steals, and rebounds. She most recently paced the Mount in the game against Long Island despite the loss.

While another freshman, Cassie Cooke made an impact during the beginning of the season for the team as well. She comes from the Maryland area of Westminster. Despite the defeat against Pittsburg in late December of 2009, Cooke still scored nineteen of her career-high two pointers. Cooke also helped lead the team in the January game against a Northeast Conference team Quinnipiac. She also lead the Mount with her 13 points and seven rebounds in the first 21 minutes of that game. Cooke was also not only a star basketball player during her high school campaign, but also in the sport of soccer as well. Cooke was named the Carroll County Girl's Soccer Player of the Year.

During this season, the Mount Women's basketball team has had seven wins thus far. The latest win was in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. against St. Francis (NY). Dunn helped the win by scoring 17 points with 12 rebounds.

The team is coached by Bryan Witten who enters his third season at the Mount this 2009-10 year. He is the fifth head coach in the program history. Lisa Steele begins her first season at the Mount for this year. She comes after finishing her basketball collegiate career at George Washington University.

Denise King and Jada Pierce also begin their first year as Assistant Coaches for Mount St. Mary's Women's basketball. Pierce comes to the Mount with immense knowledge of college basketball with 12 years of coaching experience, while three of those teams advancing to the NCAA Tournament. King comes as an assistant coach after serving as an assistant coach at Rhode Island for the last four seasons.

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