Though the Troy women’s basketball team has had a rough start to their season, player Sophie Kleeman has high hopes for the team in the upcoming games.
Kleeman, a senior criminal justice major minoring in multimedia journalism, began playing basketball at age five in her hometown in Newcastle, Australia.
“In Australia, we play for our town or state,” Kleeman said. “Troy’s old head coach, Michael Murphy, saw me at a national championship game for New South Whales in Launceston, Tasmania and got in contact with me, and then he actually flew back to Australia a few months later to see me and meet my family. I had been in contact with several other schools, but Coach Murphy was the most persistent. The fact that he came and visited my family and I really stuck out to me, and I signed my letter of intent that very day.”
Though the team lost the game, Kleeman was excited to talk about the game against Louisiana Monroe where she scored 16 points, which is her season-high.
“I was so thrilled. I made every shot that I took that night,” Kleeman said. “My four years here, we haven’t had a winning season, so there’s times when you just get sick of it, but you have to push through. It’s my last year here so I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get the team some wins. Hopefully we can turn it around this season.”
Kleeman believes that new Head Coach Chanda Rigby will make a difference to help the team push toward their goals.
“Coach Murphy’s way of playing was very structured and with Coach Rigby we have the green light to shoot if we want,” Kleeman said. “It’s very fast-paced and completely different to how we were playing before she came which helps because the team’s main strength is that we’re quick. Once we start running, a lot of teams can’t stop us.”
Kleeman stressed that Coach Rigby is a very positive coach on and off the court.
Rigby treats the team like it’s a family by having them over for breakfast at her house on the weekends.
“I don’t think she’s ever come to practice in a bad mood. Even though the season hasn’t been great, she still keeps telling us to keeps our heads up. There’s not a moment when we’re down because she’s always lifting us up with positive reinforcement or laughing and joking around with us. She’s a very happy person.”
The biggest adjustment for Kleeman with the two different coaches was her time on the court.
Usually with Coach Murphy, Kleeman would start games and she had more time on the court, while Coach Rigby does not let her play as much.
“Everyone wishes they could play more, but I’m not going to mope about it,” Kleeman said. “I have to earn my court time like everyone else.”
Kleeman was proud to say that her basketball role model is a previous Troy player, Alyce Shearing.
Shearing was a senior when Kleeman came to Troy University and, like Kleeman, she is also from Australia.
“She was so helpful my freshmen year,” Kleeman said. “She was always the first person out on the court and the last to leave. She was the hardest worker, and I think she left that legacy behind. Everyone wanted to be like her and work hard like her, and I hope that I will also leave that legacy behind.”
This is Kleeman’s last season of basketball at Troy University, and she plans to graduate this summer.