Iowa women’s basketball captains keeping morale high

Alexis Sevillian, Zion Sanders, and Kate Martin are the captains for the 2020-21 women’s basketball team.

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Nichole Harris

Iowa guard Alexis Sevillian drives the ball to the hoop during a women’s basketball between Iowa and Wisconsin at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. The Hawkeyes defeated the Badgers 97-71.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter


With constant uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, the captains of the 2020-21 Iowa women’s basketball team have a tall order this season.

Redshirt senior Alexis Sevillian, senior Zion Sanders, and redshirt sophomore Kate Martin were elected captains of the team this summer. Before the season has started, the trio of guards have had to keep the team motivated through increased safety protocols and the uncertainty of even having a season earlier this in the semester.

Usually, the team would be choosing captains around this time, Martin said, but because of COVID-19, the team decided to move the selection process forward. To pick captains, all returning members of the team write down their top choices, with the three with the most votes earning the title.

Martin is the youngest of the three. She said that being picked as a captain so young was surprising, but she’s honored that her teammates think of her as a leader. Martin added that being voted captain has made her more vocal and encouraging on the court than she had been in the past.

Head coach Lisa Bluder acknowledged Martin was younger than most captains but said that it’s important to develop leaders early.

“Having have an opportunity to be a leader early in her career really gives her an opportunity to make an impact later in her career,” Bluder said. “Kate is a great communicator, she’s outspoken, she really works extremely hard in practices and sets the bar that way.”

The captains have a multitude of responsibilities on and off the court. On the court, Martin said, they are the ones to corral the team when they get off task or consistently mishandle a drill. Off the court, they meet with a sports psychologist every week to talk through practices.

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For Sanders, being named a captain was very rewarding.

“To me, it means a lot,” Sanders said. “I was a walk-on player my freshman year, and now being a scholarship player for almost all four of it, it’s just really rewarding to know that my teammates — they look up to me and they consider me a leader on the team.”

Sanders said that not only being captain, but also a senior, has changed the way she interacts with her teammates. She sees being captain as somewhat of a mother role to the younger players.

“It’s just so different now,” she said. “I feel like a lot of people look up to me to do the right thing and follow in my footsteps when in past years I’ve been doing the opposite of that, you know, always looking up to my captains.”

As a second-year captain, Sevillian is used to the responsibilities. But a lot has changed from last year to now.

Bluder said that as a fifth-year senior and returning starter, Sevillian has the most experience on the court, and she is grateful to have Sevillian as such a strong leader.

This year, the captains have the added responsibility of keeping morale high, especially when the team wasn’t sure if they were going to have a season.

Official practices for the women’s basketball team started on Wednesday, and the season is supposed to start on Nov. 25, but there is no set schedule yet for the team. Sevillian said that keeping motivation through the uncertainty has been one of the most difficult things for her this season.

“They say that we can’t play until Nov. 25, but we don’t have a date for our first game,” she said. “Even over the summer, there was like so much uncertainty, there was no clear answers, we didn’t even know if we were going to have a season, or kind of the whole process of COVID … just being able to find that motivation with so many unknown answers has been a struggle.”

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