By Andy Tennant
Times West Virginian
Fairmont State University’s women’s basketball team has chemistry that’s hard to match. And it’s easy to see why when you look at the history some of the players have together.
The Falcons’ recent success can be partially attributed to that chemistry. Hailey Garrett and Tiffany Nicholson both were on the 2009 North Marion girls’ basketball team that brought home a state championship.
After Nicholson signed with FSU, Garrett turned into a first-team all-state player and helped the Huskies win two more Class AAA titles in 2010 and 2011. After graduation, Garrett then made the short trip down the road to play at Fairmont State.
In a league where people are often recruited from great distances, it’s easy to understand how athletes can flourish staying in their home county with other athletes they know from high school.
“I really like playing with my teammates from North Marion,” said Nicholson, who commutes to college from home and did not have to adjust to dorm life like many students do. “Hailey is doing really well this year; we played together for more than four years, so we all know where each other is going to be on the floor.
“It’s always really nice to play for your local fans who know you and to play with your teammates from high school because you already have the chemistry down and you know what they are going to do.”
The Falcons, who have won two out of the last five WVIAC championships, have been picked to win the league this year in a preseason poll of WVIAC coaches.
“I’m really excited for this year — I think we’re going to win the league,” Nicholson said. “We have everyone back from last year that started, so that really helps a lot. Our returning seniors have improved a lot, too.”
Garrett added: “Whenever you’re picked to be first like that, it makes you want to work a little harder to perform better and rise up to meet those expectations, I think it has been good motivation to work a little harder and play to our full potential. As a team we’ve made the goal to try to win the league, and hopefully go as far as we can, hopefully to the Elite 8.”
The Falcons ended last season with a 83-58 loss to Shepherd in the WVIAC tournament quarterfinals.
“During the offseason, we worked on keeping our percentages up and worked on staying in shape. We lifted weights and did individual workouts to try to stay in shape for the season.” said Garrett.
“I’ve done a little bit of everything. I’ve worked on my footwork a little bit,” continued Garrett, who says she didn’t do as much lifting due to a neck injury she endured in the weight room.
The Falcons will open their season at 3 p.m today in the WVIAC/PSAC Challenge against Clarion University (Pa.) at the Joe Retton Arena.