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  • Writer's pictureELLIOT POTOSKY & MASON COLE

Coach’s Corner with Kelley Sundberg

Sundberg in action next to sophomore forward Laura Johnson.

When the women’s basketball team started the 2023-2024 season with six wins and six losses, the Lasers had every reason to be content with how their season was going. Coming off a 6-19 record the season prior, the Lasers had beaten Paul Smith’s College by twenty points before two close losses to Albertus Magnus and Emmanuel.

Just one victory away from breaking the win total of the previous season, the women’s basketball team returned to the Athletic Center for a Jan. 13 matchup against New England College. The Lasers earned a convincing 69-57 win, but nobody could have foreseen the historic stretch of games on the horizon. 

It was not until three weeks later that the Lasers fell to their opponent. An 80-52 loss against the Saint Joseph’s Monks of Maine ended the team’s incredible win streak of eight games. The Lasers had not won more than four games in a row since 2005 when the team tied the five-game win streak set by the 2003 squad.

“We’re just staying locked in with our process,” Head Coach Kelley Sundberg said. “Staying together was our big thing [for] the season's first game. We talked about adjusting and [how] it’s a constant battle.”

Sundberg’s message from the start of the season paid major dividends in constructing an identity for the Lasers. From the first-years to the lone graduate guard Brooke Damboise, the roster has completely meshed together thanks to the growth and accountability that these athletes have embraced.

“I can’t speak enough of our group and how they’ve handled challenges throughout this season,” Sundberg said. “They’ve processed [challenges] in a very mature and healthy way.”

After beating the Elms College Bolts on Senior Day to earn win number 16 of the season, the women’s basketball team clinched the second-most wins in program history. The Lasers, however, had their sights set on something greater. 

“The ultimate goal is a conference championship. That will always be our goal for this program.” Sundberg said. “When this team gets going together, they’re a very scary group. We’ve had difficult matchups defensively, but the effort and attitude throughout gameday stays present.”

Sundberg also notes that the team has not only been dynamic on the court, but fun outside the gym too. She emphasizes that managing different personalities is as much a coach’s job as making smart decisions during a game.

“Me and [Assistant Coach] Jamal [Smith] do a good job balancing each other out. The blend of what we have is very unique. ” Sundberg said. “We were breaking things down in the offseason to make sure that we’re setting up our players in a much better way. I feel like we did a poor job of that last year, so we figured out the best route to execute things on and off the floor.”

Sundberg talks with junior forward Mia Sullivan-Sanders during a road game.

Despite losing to the Emmanuel College Saints in the first round of the GNAC playoffs, the women's basketball team has brought a winning demeanor to the hardwood, not seen in almost two decades. Losing a veteran like Damboise will make things more challenging, but the Lasers can finally rely on the youth at the core of their team.

“I am really proud of us,” said versatile first-year Blaize Mack, hours before her team’s playoff game. “I was able to bond with the girls and I’m still bonding with them day by day. Win or lose, I know I had a fun season and it’s gonna keep being fun.”

Mack, who finished the final game of the regular season with a double-double, credits her team for helping her achieve the type of season she did. 

“I can help the team with getting rebounds, but it’s not just me boxing out,” Mack said. “And then I have everyone helping me get the passes. Brooke [Damboise] had so many assists and a lot of them were to me. My teammates help me get those points.”


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