GREAT FALLS — The University of Providence women’s basketball program is going abroad next year to start out their season competing in the International University Sports Federation (FISU) America games in Merida, Mexico. But they won’t be going as the Argos. They’ll be going as the representative for Team USA.
The teams that normally attend to represent the U.S. in basketball are NCAA Division I but due to the timing of games occurring when most schools start their season, they looked to the NAIA schools where the Argos were selected as the best option to represent their country in international competition. To give an idea of the caliber of team’s selected, the last team selected from the USA was the SEC’s Mississippi State Bulldogs.
“They were looking for a team that could represent the United States,” head coach Bill Himmelberg said. “We’re a top-25 team, well-known, ranked and we represent well not only in the classroom but on the basketball court.”
As exciting as it is for the coaches and players, it comes as no surprise that the team was awarded this opportunity. Under coach Himmelberg the team has flourished consistently ranking in the top-25, producing All-Americans and establishing a standard of excellence in team GPA.
“At first I was just speechless just because it’s such a big opportunity and it’s super cool but I’m not surprised because Coach Bill has set this team up for success,” sophomore Brooklyn Harn explained.
Aside from the obvious honor of representing the U.S. abroad the team is excited to see international competition because for many of them, it’ll be their first interaction with it.
“I’ve only played in the United States, I’ve never played outside so I’m really interested to see how physical the girls are how athletics the girls are, how they play the game and all the intricate things in basketball,” Junior Reed Hazard added.
With the departure of four key seniors from this past season, Emilee Maldonado, Parker Esary, Kerstyn Pimperton and Elly Teske, next year’s team will be young and more inexperienced but getting to play a week before the rest of the NAIA will be a chance to get acclimated before the season gets going.
“Our team is going to be young next year so it’s going to be good experience for them and it’s going to be a great bonding experience,” Himmelberg said. “We want our kids to have fun, make friends while we’re there and be super competitive.”
The games take place Oct. 14-26. The USA Team will have representation in up to 15 sports against 20-25 participating countries in Central, North and South America.