Rylie Stephens

Have you ever wondered what goes on in the lives of the college athletes that you watch on TV? Hi, my name is Rylie Stephens, I am a sophomore at UE majoring in communication. Along with being a part of the communication program on campus, I am a part of the women’s basketball program. I thought it would be a fun experience for current students, potential UE students, administrators, fans, and professors that are all a part of the UE community to see the life of a college athlete while we travel to play the sport that we love. So that is exactly what I am going to do… tell you what goes on in my day-to-day life of being a women’s basketball player and give you the highlights of our trip!

Photo By: Michael Robertson (Director of Media Relations for WBB)

This week we traveled to a city up north with lots of activities, site seeing, and good eats. Can you guess where our next opponent was located? None other than Chicago, The Wind City. On Thursday January 20th we, the team and coaching staff headed out for our 5-hour bus trip to Chicago. The bus is a place where us as players have time to get our homework done, take our well needed naps, and bond with each other.

PHOTO: Rylie Stephens

Later that Thursday night we arrived at the hotel which was our first destination. After getting to the hotel, we quickly headed back onto the bus to get dinner at a hole in the wall restaurant called Pizzeria Uno, and we had the famous Chicago style pizza! After pizza us players thought that we were heading back to the hotel, but little did we know that we were going sightseeing after dinner. The bus stopped at a Chicago staple, The Bean. For me I was super excited to see this monumental piece of art because I had never seen it before. The Bean was a great surprise, and we got our cameras out and took selfies, videos, and pictures of the site.

The rest of the night was spent in the hotel, the first thing we did was stretch as a team as we do before every game day. After stretching it was time to rest and do homework to get ready for the game tomorrow.

Wake up it is game day! Our day started with breakfast, taping, and then head to Loyola to get our shoot around in before game time. After shoot around our coach planned for us to go shopping at Michigan Avenue for a couple of hours. This was a highlight of the trip because we have some shoppers on the team! We made our way to our first stop, the Nike Store. This was a hit for our team. I can personally say I got some fire green sweatpants at the store. But for some of my other teammates like Aniah Griffin, Nike is her store. She bought two of the same sweatshirts (but she will argue she had to have both color ways of the sweatshirt) and some other nice clothes. We made some other stops during our time like the four-story Starbucks, because our team also loves a good drink from Starbs on game day.

Next stop was our pregame meal with the whole team and coaches to fuel up at a restaurant called Exchequer. After this it was time to prep for game time. We headed back to the hotel to get taped, get our hair done, and look over the game plan. Next up we headed to Loyola for the game. I was particularly excited for this game because my best friend plays for Loyola, #10 Maya Chandler. This is common for players to know other players on other teams because of our old AAU teams, high school teams, and all-star team & games before college. Loyola was not just a special game for me, but for one of my teammates #14 Abby Fiet. This game was where she scored her 1,000-career point. This is a huge milestone and goal for all players, but what is very impressive is that she is only a junior.

PHOTO: Rylie Stephens

After the game we headed to our second destination to play the Valparaiso Beacons. Valpo was only an hour drive, which usually the drive from our first away game to the second is not very far because the Athletics departments in our conference plan our away games close together if we play in the same weekend, so we do not have two long drives.

Saturday was a recovery and chill day for our team after a long few days. We wake up early for breakfast and then do some homework for a few hours because we have a prep day for game day Sunday. After our free time to get homework done, lunch arrived and then we headed to practice at Valparaiso University.  Later at night we headed to dinner at Industrial Revolution Eatery. Dinner was a success, one of my assistant coaches and I are vegetarian, so we were thrilled to see a black bean burger on the menu that night! After dinner me and a couple of teammates had to hit up the hotel hot tub, and then it was time to get ready for bed and rest for our afternoon game.

Time to wake up again… It is game day! We started our morning off early with team review and breakfast. After this was the final time to pack up our things and get on the bus to head to the game. A short drive later we arrived at Valparaiso University to play our game.

When the game was over, we got on the bus and headed back home to Evansville. At the end of the day all the hard work and hours travelling, away trips with my teammates are going to be forever a great memory. I hope that I have given you an insightful read into what the life of a college student athlete and more specifically what a college women’s basketball life is like.