Behind the Scenes with Texas Women’s Basketball

Photographs by Sarah Frankie Linder

On days when tipoff is 7 p.m., the team arrives to the arena around 2 p.m.For one hour, they have a shoot-around, practicing shots and getting warmed up.

After an early exit in last season’s NCAA Tournament, the Texas Women’s Basketball team is looking to bounce back this season. The Alcalde followed the team for a day to capture the chemistry they are building as they gear up for this season’s tournament.

Following a pre-game meal that runs from 3:30 to 4 p.m., the team gathers in the locker room to run over strategy with head coach Karen Aston, the second winningest coach in team history. This is her seventh season with the Longhorns, whose record as of press time is 21–7 overall.
Every team has their rituals, and women’s basketball is no different. Before heading out to the court each game, the Longhorns hold hands and pray. Here, guard Danni Williams, who is earning her master’s in sport management, leads the group in prayer.
Even off the court, the team is a close-knit group of women. While the coaches get to have them just 20 hours a week at practice, the players see each other far more often. Most of them live with one another, eat daily at the Texas Athletics Nutrition Center, and attend the same classes.
The team gets prepped before stepping out on the court. Here, student athletic trainer Karla Gomez applies a topical analgesic to the knee of senior Olamide Aborowa. The team this season is about half newcomers and half returning players. Many incoming players are adapting to new roles on Aston’s team.
Williams runs out from the tunnel before the game starts. What follows is a 62–42 win by the Longhorns against Kansas. Post-game, the players head into the locker room to cool down and celebrate their victory.