By Gabby Guerard
There’s glory to being named a starter in any sport, between high fives, clapping, special handshakes, and even hearing one’s name roar out of the speakers.
However, those players whose names don’t get announced play an intricate role too.
“Your first five take you only so far. It’s your second five that are going to get you over the hump,” explained Springfield College women’s basketball head coach Naomi Graves.
To earn their 9-1 NEWMAC conference record, the Pride have relied on efforts that stretch far beyond the starting lineup. Backup point guard Grace Dzindolet has been a consistent contributor, having played in 18 of 19 games as a freshman.
But ironically, the Dzindolet wasn’t even recruited as a point guard.
After playing basketball for nearly her whole life, the Holliston, M.A. native was comfortable as a shooting guard.
“It’s always been so easy for me, and when [Coach] said ‘point guard,’ I was like, ‘Alright, that’s fine!’” recalled Dzindolet. “Then when I realized she’s devoted to her point guards, that’s when I was like, ‘Okay, I have got to figure it out!’’”
Though she didn’t navigate it alone.
Starting point guard Alex Goslin has been there every step of the way. While she’s an experienced player who commands the floor with ease as a junior, it didn’t start out that way.
As a freshman two years ago, Goslin was very overwhelmed. Transitioning from the high school level, where the offense was primarily just passing and cutting, to running college-level sets, was challenging as a point guard.
“Not only do you have to know your position in the plays, but you have to know who you’re setting up for each play,” Goslin said. “So, you sort of have to know every spot and what play to call at what time. It’s weird when you’re a freshman point guard, because you’re young, but you’re supposed to be telling people older than you what to do, and sometimes it’s uncomfortable.”
Fortunately, like Dzindolet, Goslin wasn’t alone either at the time.
With the help of then starting point guard, Danielle Racette of ‘17, Goslin was able to learn what she needed to do, and had endless support.
“Danielle would put her arm around me in practice and be like, ‘You’re going to be fine, you just have to do this, this, and this’ and she would calm me down,” recalled Goslin.
Now, it’s her turn to do the same with Dzindolet.
“I definitely try to do to Grace what Danielle did for me and just be that support,” Goslin explained. “On a day where she’s having a tough day or Coach is being extra hard on her, I’m like, ‘You’re going to be fine. It’s just one day’ and just give her the confidence that she can be in charge.”
This support has been vital for the freshman. Graves’ passion and sense of tough love has been another big adjustment. While it took some time to get used to, Dzindolet has learned to love it and use it as motivation.
“I love all my freshman, but she’s the one that’s been in the heat the most, because I trust her. I’m just hard on her. I want her to get stronger, and sometimes she gets down on herself, because she thinks too much,” Graves said about Dzindolet. “I’m really hard on my point guards, Alex will tell you that.”
Yet, this has only helped the two point guards create a unique bond.
“She’s literally the only person I would want to play behind,” Dzindolet said about Alex. “She’s just one of those mentors.”
Perhaps that’s because Goslin sees a little bit of herself in Dzindolet.
“Grace was me freshman year,” Goslin said with a smile. “A little out of control, like you never know what she’s going to do. She’s good, we just have to channel the energy!”
In fact Dzindolet’s spirit is one of the aspects that most excites Graves.
“The thing that I love about Grace is she’s very serious, but she’s very emotional and powerful! She’s like, ‘Yeah! Let’s go!’ She’s that kind of kid,” said Graves. “I think down the road she could be really good at what she’s going to do.”
Dzindolet, Goslin, Graves and the rest of the women’s basketball team will host NEWMAC opponent Wellesley on Saturday, February 2 at 3 p.m. in Blake Arena.
Photo courtesy Jack Margaros