SPECIAL FEATURE by Natalie Fazio (May 4, 2019) – The athletic program at Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) has seen a lot of growth in the past 12 years of existence. The department now has 13 men and women's sports, including men's baseball, golf and tennis, women's softball and volleyball, and men's and women's basketball, cross-country, soccer and track and field. Throughout the years, athletics has featured a lot of national rankings, dedicated athletes and strong finishes to their seasons. One specific team that has made history in its success over all other teams took place in the 2018-2019 season – women's basketball.
Women's basketball was a part of something special when they worked all season to go somewhere no team at OLLU has been before - the semifinals of the NAIA National Championship Tournament. The Saints put up an incredible fight all season long with a 16-2 conference record; they were able to continue their journey to nationals in Billings, Mont.
Senior forward, Destinee King (SR/Antelope, Calif.), previously at Santa Barbra City College, talked about her second year as a Saint and how it felt to go further than any other team, "I knew I wanted to go further than we did last year, so it felt good when we accomplished our goal," said King.
With an impressive 89-84 win against Loyola University in the opening round of the national championship, the Saints were able to continue their season into the round of 16 against Wayland Baptist University.
Mikki Flores (SR/San Antonio, Texas), a senior guard from San Antonio, had a changing impact on the game and scored the buzzer beater to defeat Wayland Baptist University 96-93. "Scoring the buzzer beater was weird at first, I knew we were winning, but I didn't realize what had happened until I was sitting down after the game. It hit me that I actually made it," said Flores.
The Saints took on Campbellsville University next in the round of eight of the tournament and beat them 94-88, taking them into the semifinals round against Oklahoma City University. The Saints went out with a strong fight against Oklahoma City falling short of the win with an 85-70 loss.
A standout for the Saints in the tournament was senior guard, Regina Sheffield (SR/Menifee, Calif.). While being named Defensive Player of the Year, she also earned the title of All-Conference, "I didn't really hear what people were saying during all that; I was just focused on trying to play my best," Sheffield said.
The women were able to finish out their season with a 28-7 record and a history-making semifinals appearance. The team finished higher than other Saints team has, and the women plan to start working toward next season. The women hope that they inspired other athletes to put in the work and strive for their season to go to new lengths for the OLLU athlete program.
Two-year Saint Brianna Henson (SR/Dunlap, Ill.) said, "It felt good. We kept our eye on getting to the national tournament and go far, which we did. I am proud that we have left a legacy and we will have a banner on the wall."