The UW-Milwaukee Panthers women’s basketball team opens its regular season Thursday night, at home, against the University of Wisconsin.
It’ll be an immediate test for UWM, who went 9-and-20 last year, their first under coach Kyle Rechlitz. She says she was proud of what the team accomplished last season, but says it will do more this year.
"It's been a much smoother ride second time around," she says, adding that she's also grown as a coach.
"Coaching is 50 percent what you know and 50 percent what you take from other people, and I definitely want to have my own style," she says. "So I’ve taken bits and pieces from everywhere I’ve been and created it into who I am today."
Though it's still a building year for the relatively young team, it does boast three seniors: team captains Angela Rodriguez and Kimee Chandler, as well as Emily Decorah. Rechlitz says the seniors are helping build chemistry, team-building and motivation among all the players. Community work is also part of the team's preparation.
"We're out in the community all the time and really just challenging them to be great people and that's where our culture starts from," she says.
That extends to what Rechlitz is looking for in future recruits.
"I feel really good about where we're at in the recruiting and the types of players we're recruiting and as much the types of people," she says. "Character is really important to us."
Of course, Milwaukee and UWM's academic performance also draw interest, she says. Helping build the reputation of UWM's overall athletic program is the new athletic director Amanda Braun, who Rechlitz says inspires her team.
"Anytime your female atheltes can see a female in charge, it really sets the standards o the things they can accomplish in life, you know outside of basketball," she says.
Rechlitz previously played for the Wisconsin Badgers' basketball team, which will face the Panthers Thursday night at the Klotsche Center.