By Caroline Ballard
Sports Information Intern
Washington University in St. Louis
The No. 7-ranked Washington University in St. Louis women's basketball team will honor its four senior members prior to Saturday's 1 p.m. contest against University of Chicago –Jenn Dynis, Ereka Hunt, Lily Sarros and Zoe Vernon.
The Bears have accumulated a record of 94-14 over the past four years, including four straight seasons exceeding 20 victories. Dynis and Vernon transferred to WashU for their junior seasons, while both Hunt and Sarros are four-year members of the Bears team that has won three University Athletic Association (UAA) Championships (2014-16). Saturday's contest against Chicago will determine the UAA Champion for the 2017 season.
Dynis, Hunt, Sarros and Vernon reflected on their years at WashU with Sports Information Intern Caroline Ballard.
What made you choose to come to WashU?
Vernon: The mix of great academics and great basketball. I was also excited to get the chance to be a part of such a successful program full of so many traditions.
Sarros: I chose WashU because it gave me the opportunity to keep playing basketball at a highly competitive level without needing to sacrifice focus on my plans for a future career.
Hunt: After first coming to WashU for the basketball camp my sophomore year of high school, I immediately knew it would be a good fit for me. I love that I can play basketball at a high level without having to sacrifice my education.
Dynis: I chose WashU because of not only the great academic opportunity but also the renowned success of the basketball program here. I was lucky enough to grow up watching the Bears win UAA and National Championships and knew it would be an amazing honor to be able to be a part of that continued success.
How do you balance your schedule between basketball and school?
Vernon: I make sure to use my free time wisely, and to get my work done during the day instead of waiting until after practice.
Sarros: I balance basketball and school by keeping them separated. When studying, I make time slots when I can focus and get through as much work as possible. Then I can go to basketball and use it as an outlet and a time when I don't have to think about school at all.
Hunt: Knowing that I have a busy schedule forces me to get my work done and not procrastinate. It can be hard to stay on top of all my homework when we are in season, so I try to make and stick to a routine to avoid getting too overwhelmed.
Dynis: Time management seems to be the name of the game whenever I am asked this question. You find that there are only 2-3 hour windows a couple times throughout your day to get work done and you know that if you don't sit down to do it, it's not going to get done. As a student-athlete, you learn to use your time wisely and really make use of every minute that you can so you can be successful.
What have you learned from playing under head coach Nancy Fahey?
Vernon: Of course I've learned how to be a better basketball player, but I've learned a lot about how to be a good leader and to make sure to be prepared everyday.
Sarros: Coach Fahey has taught me the importance of self-confidence and not being afraid of failure. But also that when failure occurs it is important to recognize it and learn from it.
Hunt: I've learned so much from coach Fahey over the past four years, but one thing that will stick with me is the importance of putting the team before yourself, which obviously applies to aspects of life beyond basketball. This philosophy is a reason our team is so successful, and coach Fahey creates an atmosphere that makes this easy. Knowing everyone cares more about the team's success than their individual accomplishments is one reason why being a part of this team is so much fun.
Dynis: Coach Fahey has taught me countless lessons on and off the court that would take me quite some time to list. As a basketball player she has taught me the importance of positive self-talk and confidence as well as increased my basketball IQ tenfold. She has increased my competitive drive (which I didn't know was possible) and taught us all how to win with class. However, I think the most valuable lessons I have learned from Coach have been the ones that are about life outside of basketball. She has taught me a different level of decency and respect for the people around you. She has taught me that there is always someone who has something going on that you know nothing about so you should always be kind. Last but not least Coach taught me to always carry an emergency $20.
What is your favorite basketball memory at WashU?
Vernon: My favorite memory was making it to the Elite Eight last year, and I can't wait to try to make it further this year!
Sarros: My favorite basketball memory from WashU is when we beat Carnegie Mellon for the third time in one season in a close game to send us to the Elite Eight!
Hunt: Every UAA Championship has been great for their own reasons but winning freshman year was especially exciting because it was the first UAA Championship for almost everyone on the team. Seeing how much winning meant to the upperclassmen made me realize I couldn't take it for granted, and it has been a huge motivator for me to continue the tradition.
Dynis: One of the first that comes to mind is beating Carnegie for the third time in the same season to send us into the Elite Eight last year. The emotion and excitement behind that game was unmatched and to do it with that group of girls was amazing.
What are your future plans upon graduating from WashU?
Vernon: I plan on going to grad school to get my PhD in statistics, but I am not sure where yet.
Sarros: After graduating I will be teaching elementary school in Indianapolis through the Teach for America program.
Hunt: I am currently undecided, but I am planning to pursue a career in chemical engineering with a focus on environmental issues such as air or water quality.
Dynis: I am not entirely sure on my plans for next year but I hope to be accepted into the Sport Changes Life program in Ireland where I would be playing professionally, working towards my masters, and coaching inner city youth. It would be a phenomenal opportunity.