Oct. 16, 2001
Perhaps Petra Hofmann, a senior on the women’s basketball team, said it best. “Leadership is very important, because if you don’t have leaders, you can’t follow anybody.”
It’s really that simple. Teams with good leadership are usually successful because they have good examples to follow. Hofmann and her fellow seniors Lakesha Springle and April Traylor are taking it upon themselves this season to make sure with their leadership, all of the Seminoles are headed in the right direction.
“It’s kind of common knowledge that seniors are automatically pushed into the leadership role,” Traylor, FSU’s leading scorer last season, said. “I think it’s important that seniors accept that role, because if you have players who don’t want to be leaders, then it’s going to be tough.
“I think myself, Kesha and Petra all know that we need to take on that role and we’re willing to take the challenge. The great thing about the three of us is that we each have different personalities and different talents to put into this. We all three compliment each other.”
Both Springle and Traylor have been at Florida State for four years and they have grown with the program. And all three of these players have had the opportunity to direct the Florida State offense as the team’s point guard. Springle started every game at point guard last season, while Hofmann earned valuable minutes in her first season at FSU, seeing playing time in every game. Traylor was the squad’s point guard in 1999-2000, before moving back to her natural shooting guard position last season.
“Leadership is very important because if you don’t have good leaders, then you don’t know what direction you are going in,” Springle said. “Our coaches are leaders but they’re on the sidelines. They’re not on the court with us when we are playing, so we need to be leaders on the court.”
The Seminoles are coming off the program’s best season in a decade after going 19-12 and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. And although Florida State returns seven players from last year’s team, including three starters, only five of those seven players actually earned letters. Lauren Bradley redshirted after playing in six games while Tasheika Morris had to sit out the season after transferring from Tennessee. Gone are four seniors, including starters Brooke Wyckoff and Levys Torres, who provided solid leadership and wisdom to last year’s team.
“The seniors last year always encouraged and showed by example,” Hofmann said. “I should be a vocal leader, and right now I’m not, but it’s something I want to be.
I like being in a leadership role, but sometimes it’s a pressure, but it’s a pressure that just makes me work harder.”
For Springle, being a leader is something she relishes.
“My reputation is that I say what I want to say, whenever I want to say it.” Springle said. “I usually don’t bite my tongue for anybody. So, if you’re doing good, I’ll tell you that you’re doing a good job. If you’re messing up, I’ll tell you that you’re messing up and I’ll tell you want you need to improve on. I have to be Coach Sue on the floor in my position, so that puts me in the leadership position. I also think I was born with it.”
Traylor is a vocal leader who says she’s learned to set good examples and learned to be a leader.
“I’ve changed so much since my freshman year,” Traylor said. “My maturity would probably be the number one thing. Back then, there were things that I didn’t think were necessary or didn’t know why we did them, but now I sit back and think of why we do things. Now I know the end result, before I even asked a question. I’m also doing different things, like I’m getting here early, having a good attitude and not showing my teammates if I get discouraged.”
The task of last year’s team was to get the program to “the next level,” and the Seminole veterans did an admirable job. With a strong nucleus returning and the addition of five talented newcomers, expectations will be the same this season … “and then some.”
“I have a lot of expectations for this year,” Hofmann said, “but it’s not just me, everyone on the team does. We have to live up to them. You need to set the bar high, because if you don’t, then it’s okay to fall under it and then you never reach your goals.”
The Seminoles, who started practice on Saturday, October 13th, will hold two exhibition games on November 6th and November 11th before opening the season in the Virgin Islands vs. NCAA Tournament participant St. Mary’s on November 18th.
“I was really looking forward to practicing because we’ve been running for six weeks and I was ready to pick up the ball and go,” Springle said. “I’m looking forward to the competition and just being with my teammates. We’re like a big family. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a great year.”