The beginning of March marks the approach of the midway point of the spring semester. While this past year has been very atypical from its start, many Valpo seniors are still finding ways to leave their mark on the university.
Senior Marlee Profitt is one of three seniors on the team this year. Like everything else in the world, the pandemic has altered the athlete’s approach to their season. She, like many of the other players, has used the challenges presented by COVID-19 in order to strengthen their teammate relationships.
“This is basketball like you’ve never seen before,” Profitt said. “Instead of playing a team at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year when you’ve improved more, we play them back to back days, no rest in between… It was definitely a more stressful season—you were holding your breath to make sure you got to the game that weekend and hoping that neither team contracted COVID during the middle of the week.”
Despite all of the hardships and challenges that COVID-19 has brought with it, the women’s basketball team has stuck together, resulting in a successful season.
“Our senior class has been through a lot together,” Profitt said. “I think [we] helped shape the culture of our team now, especially with our new coach, Mary Evans. And I’m just glad that we all stuck it out together for the four, or five years for some of us.”
Overcoming the challenges presented by the pandemic is an accomplishment in itself, but Profitt’s personal achievements stretch beyond the chaos of this past year.
“Last year I tore my ACL for the fourth time,” Profitt said. “My knee healed pretty well after the initial swelling, so I just decided to keep playing with a torn ACL… I ended up winning the Comeback Athlete of the Year award through Valpo Athletics… and I would say that I’m pretty proud of myself, because I kept fighting and didn’t give up.”
While the current team is bonded together through their shared experiences from their time at Valpo, there are two previous team members who are originally responsible for igniting this team mentality. When the current seniors were freshmen, there were two seniors who especially stood out.
“There’s Dani Franklin… [who] is still a coach for our team, and the other one is Georgi Donchetz,” Profitt said. “It’s really cool having Dani as a coach on our team because she is one of my role models and other players’ role models. And just the way that she played the game and led our team was just very inspiring. I know our class aimed to do the same as she did for us when we were underclassmen.”
And now, several years later, Profitt stands in the same place that Franklin and Donchetz stood five years ago, alongside her fellow seniors, Caitlyn Morrison and Ella Ellenson.
“We really did like, grow up together,” Profitt said of her fellow senior teammates. “I definitely have matured in the past 5 years… But I’ve seen both Cait and Ella and myself all mature and grow up together, so we’ve gotten to be very close on the team, the three of us.”
Profitt’s teammates describe her as “a great all-around person... She always has the input you need and want, and he rinternsity is something that can’t be outmatched. She is a great teammate, she is always there. She always makes you laugh and laughs at your jokes,” fellow senior Ella Ellenson said.
Profitt and her teammates will compete in the MVC Tournament starting on March 11 in Moline, Illinois.