After the Springfield College women’s basketball team concluded their 2011-12 season with a 12-14 record, the off-season, as it typically is, was a time to recruit.
Head coach Naomi Graves had her long list of coveted players, with the most sought-after near the top.
Emily Gins, a senior from Fort Myers, Fla. was making her return back to her home state of New York. She was on that recruiting list; just not anywhere near the top.
Attending an arts school called Oakwood Friends School, in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., there were no gym classes, so Gins and every other student, was required to play a sport. She did not start playing basketball until the eighth grade, so Gins was still relatively new to the game.
Graves went to see Gins play in high school and saw that she had a lot of areas to improve upon. As Graves was completely honest with Gins about her development, Gins was well aware of the situation.
“I knew I had to prove myself before I even got here,” said Gins.
Traveling from Poughkeepsie to Alden Street in the fall of 2012, Gins brought her desire to improve to the first few practices with the team.
“I think the thing that stood out for me initially was her eagerness to get better and her willingness to learn,” said Graves.
Gins’ first year wearing the maroon and white jersey was not an easy process by any means. Springfield finished a whopping 4-20 in the 2012-13 season.
While the team as a whole struggled to rack up victories, Gins never felt too overwhelmed, as she was never aware what a winning season was prior to joining the program.
As Gins was spending the majority of her time on the bench, Graves did give her the nod to check in at the scorekeeper’s table from time to time, as she averaged 7.5 minutes per contest.
“I think the reason I got the minutes was because I worked hard,” said Gins. “When I was in [Graves] knew I was going to give [it] 100 percent.”
Heading into her sophomore season, Gins knew that the only possible direction for her team was up, after registering four wins the year prior. As Gins continued to develop, so did her numbers in the 2013-14 season. Averaging 17.8 minutes and 5.5 points per game, Gins significantly improved, and became a contributing member of the team.
As her production took a giant leap in one season, so did the entire team. Forget about that wretched 4-20 record the year before, the Pride constructed a so-called Cinderella season during Gins’ sophomore campaign.
Sitting at 1-3 to begin the year, Springfield may have looked as though it would struggle yet again. But, with the flick of a switch, the Pride went on a seven-game winning streak that would set up a year of drastic improvement. Earning the No. 6 seed into the conference tournament, as well as an NCAA tournament appearance, Springfield was able to beat Smith College 51-43, and win their first NEWMAC title since 2006.
Starting forward Tamara Tribble went down with a fractured thumb in December. Gins stepped into the starting lineup and proved that she could be a key part to the team’s success throughout the most crucial stretch.
Scoring 14 points in the NEWMAC championship win, Gins averaged a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds) throughout the three games of the tournament. It was an extremely memorable moment for the team, and one that Gins will never forget.
“When people ask me what my best feeling I’ve ever had in my life, I think it was probably when we won NEWMAC’s,” said Gins. “It was the most fulfilling feeling, the most accomplished I’ve ever felt.”
During Gin’s junior year, Springfield finished another successful season, logging a record of 19-7. Gin’s production spiked once again. She averaged over 26 minutes and 7.6 points per game.
Being the type of player who was vocal ever since her freshmen year, Gins gradually developed leadership. Gins was able to become a leader by feeding off the senior’s in Jamie Bickelhaupt, Andrea Moschetta, and Riley Fake.
Entering her senior season, Gins put her leadership on full display and it made quite the impression on the entire team.
“The best part is that kids follow her. They follow her energy level, they follow her leadership style,” said Graves. “I often will refer to her as our heart beat because her sense of determination and her sense of commitment for wanting us to be competitive.”
Wanting Springfield to be competitive was accurate as Gins had her best season yet. Averaging a team best 12.1 points per contest, Gins played in every single game for the second season in her career.
The Pride was able to construct their third-straight winning season, finishing at 17-12. Seeing her team win was most important for Gins.
“I wouldn’t have ever expected to be the leading scorer my senior year, I never looked at the stats, that’s not the type of person I am, I just wanted to win,” said Gins.
It was only four years ago when Gins was entering the women’s basketball program with a lot to prove. Four years later, Gins has not only turned herself into a tremendous leader and an impact player, but created memories that will never be taken away from her.
“I never thought I would have four of the best years of my life on this team with the best people I’ve ever met,” said Gins. “I definitely wouldn’t be the same person without basketball or my coaches. That’s what I’ll remember in the long run.”