Assistant Sports Editor
There is no question that head coach Naomi Graves expects a lot out of her players. Hard work, intelligence and determination are just a few characteristics atop a long list of qualities that each member of the women’s basketball team at Springfield College possesses.
Along with these attributes that lie most important in Graves’ expectations, there is one quality that is quite rare for a coach with 22 years experience to expect. Graves expects her players to have swagger on and off the court.
“I always tell the kids the problem with our team is they don’t have enough swagger. They’re just nice kids,” commented Graves.
When it comes to the Pride, there is one girl that rises above the rest when it comes to possessing swagger.
“Brooklyn’s got swagger,” Graves said while sitting back in her chair and nodding.
Brooklyn, also known as Emily Gins, is a freshman forward for the Pride. Standing at 5-foot-10, there is not much that Gins backs down from.
“The other day in the game, WPI tried to crash our huddle and she [Gins] yelled, ‘Don’t let them get in there!’ There is not much I would snicker about, but at that point I had to,” said Graves with a smile on her face. “She’s got this edginess about her. She’s got swagger.”
Early on in high school, Gins moved from New York down to Florida with her mom and stepfather. Once in the Sunshine State, she attended Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers, Fla. and midway through her freshman year, Gins had a change of heart.
“I was born in Brooklyn, my mom moved there when I was going into ninth grade and I lived there for a year. I didn’t like Florida so I moved back to New York to a boarding school that was an hour and a half north of the city,” explained Gins.
Gins attended Oakwood Friends School in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. for the remainder of her high school career. Junior and senior year, Gins was elected as a co-captain and named to play in the NEPSAC New England All Star game. The forward led her team in scoring while averaging 19.2 points a game, as well as 12.5 rebounds her senior year.
“Brooklyn has a lot of effort and enthusiasm,” said Graves of her freshman. “She can rebound and play with her back. She probably leads the team in put-backs. She has a nose for the ball and she can finish. She works really hard and she is really positive.”
Although making the varsity team at Springfield College, Gins was not originally on the top of Graves’ list of recruits.
“I went to see her play and I was like, ‘Oh my goodness this girl is not going to play for me,’ remembers Graves. “She was heavy, she was out of shape and I told her at the end of the game that she needed to get in shape. She dropped 15 pounds. Last spring, all the way through the summer and in, she got a personal trainer. She worked really hard, she is just a kid whose heart is in the right place.”
As a freshman, Gins is having the time of her life. One of her favorite aspects of the team does not rely so much physically, but more in the team camaraderie aspect of the Pride.
“Coming in, I didn’t know what the program [was] going to be like,” said Gins. “ I didn’t know what the team was going to be like. I didn’t expect the team to be nice to us freshmen, but it was not like that from day one. That made my experience here that much better already. We are all very close.”
Although only seeing an average of six minutes per game, Gins knows that she can make an impact within her team no matter what.
“For a young person on the team, she has a very strong voice with the players,” said Graves. I hear her constantly on the bench. She’s engaged, she is invested, and she is in it for the long haul. She beats everybody up, she knows her job is to make the people in front of her better, and not many people do that.”
One member of the “starting five” that Gins’ pushes day in and day out is junior forward Tamara Tribble. Although Tribble is leading the team in minutes, averaging 30.2 per game, she constantly feels pressure from Gins to play her best at all times.
“Everyday Brooklyn makes sure that she plays intense defense so that I am used to the pressure and competition I see in a game,” said Tribble. “We always guard each other and she makes me better by playing as hard as she can, just like our competition does in games.”
Gins, Tribble and the rest of the Pride tip off again next when they travel to Worcester, Mass. this Saturday and play WPI.
As for her new nickname,
“My dad still lives in Brooklyn so I still see him a lot,” said Gins. “ I am kind of in between and once I said that I am from Brooklyn, it caught on as my nickname. It’s funny. I don’t mind it.”