Hooping against the Purdue Women's Basketball team, daily
The transition to college sports is unknown for many high school athletes. Rees Zay (Sophomore; Sales & Marketing; Huntington, IN) now knows after a year with the Women's Basketball team. He joined the team as a practice quad player to scrimmage against the varsity team. The practice squad is gotten the unofficial name of RIP Squad, which has many interpretations of the name that appears to have unknown original meanings.
Zay says the reason to join was three-fold: "I needed to be involved in something outside of academics and meet more people outside of my friends from high school and freshman year, so this sounded like a great opportunity to meet new people with similar interests as myself and play basketball, which is something I enjoy doing for fun. Secondly, I participated because I played sports in high school and while I am nowhere near the skillset of a Division I athlete, the thought of being a part of a team again appealed to me, which is sort of what RIP Squad turned into. Lastly, I joined because RIP is an opportunity to use Purdue's incredible athletic facilities on a daily basis, including Cardinal Court and Mackey Arena, which is an opportunity few people have and one that I am thankful for."
RIP consists of about 15 guys who go to the Purdue Women's Basketball practices and assist drills, scrimmages, and workouts in several different ways. Some of the roles as a group out of season are to go to practices and scrimmage against them, as well as mix into drills with them. In season, they have much more specific tasks like running the scout of an opposing team. For example, if the girls had an upcoming game against Michigan State, RIP Squad attends practice 30 minutes early to learn Michigan State plays. "We learn their plays because we then run them against the Purdue girls at practice so they can try and get an idea of the type of offense that they will see MSU run in their game against our team."
Rees enjoyed his experience on RIP so much he is looking forward to continuing participating next year. If interested in the future, Rees reached out to the Director of Basketball Operations to expressed his interest once he learned the opportunity existed. One thing Rees will remember about his experience is the people he was around all the time and the opportunity that presents itself through meeting other people on the squad. "I'll always remember what an elbow from Ae'Rianna Harris or Tam Farquhar feels like because of always playing defense against them. I'll always remember Lyndsey Whilby telling me I'm "too little" when she scores on me in a one-on-one drill. I'll always remember the entire girls team yelling "and-one" when one of their teammates makes a layup. Finally, I'll always remember the times Coach Scruggs or Grad. Assistant Rymer drew up a play for us to beat the girls in a drill at the buzzer."
Other fun highlights include participating in team banquets, playing pick-up after practice, and simply just doing his best job to prepare them and help the team get better. Zay concluded, "It's an honor to work with Coach V, Coach Beth, Coach Balcomb, Coach Scruggs, and Grad. Assts. Aaron Rymer and Abby Abel. They were all very helpful to us through scouting and sort of coaching us in different ways to help the program be the most successful it could be."