GRAND FORKS, N.D.-- University of North Dakota head women's basketball coach Travis Brewster has announced his team's summer captains, a quartet of four seniors posed to be the leadership group. Faith Dooley, Lexi Klabo, Jill Morton and Bailey Strand have taken on the role of leaders through the offseason as they prepare to enter their first season in The Summit League. Each of the named summer captains are leaders off the floor as well, with all earning academic all-conference accolades on multiple occasions. All four were starters last season and go into their final campaign eager to deliver another conference championship to campus, something UND women's basketball teams have done 17 times, including two in the final five seasons in the Big Sky Conference.
Dooley, a two-time Big Sky champ and two-time Big Sky Tourney MVP herself in volleyball, came over from the Fighting Hawks' volleyball team midway through the season last year and worked herself into a starting role. By season's end, the Wheatland, N.D., product had started the final 10 games of the year and averaged just over four points and nearly five rebounds a game in that stretch. She's already etched her name all over the school's volleyball record book and is prepped to help earn more hardware for a fellow Betty Engelstad Sioux Center resident.
"I have had a great time adjusting and growing with the team. I have enjoyed learning the tradition and creating new goals and standards," Dooley said. "I think this has played a huge part in making my experience enjoyable is the growth we have had so far this spring.
"My favorite thing about playing for Coach Brewster is his passion to win and the passion he has for hard work. It makes playing basketball fun when you share that same passion."
Klabo was an All-Big Sky Conference First Team member last year and is a two-time all-league player. She now shifts her focus to The Summit League, where she's been successful against her future league foes. Last year, she averaged 21 points and 10 boards per game in those contests and in the past two seasons against her hometown team (North Dakota State), she's compiled a pair of double-doubles while averaging 20.5 ppg and 10.0 rpg.
She, too, mentions passion as being a cornerstone piece in creating a winning atmosphere.
"My favorite thing about playing for Coach Brewster is the energy and passion he brings to every game, practice and team event, etc.,” she said. "He loves basketball and is super competitive and that makes everyone around him better. My experience being on this basketball team has been such a blessing. Being a part of a program with great tradition and being able to try and continue that on with the wonderful teammates and coaches is something I’ll never forget."
Morton was named UND's Female Unsung Hero, an award spanning all varsity sports and voted on by all department coaches and administrators. The Edina, Minn., native certainly embodies a no-nonsense, below-the-headlines attitude that fills a critical role on the team. Primarily known as an on-ball defensive wizard, Morton blossomed as a scorer last year, averaging double figures while continuing to be the team's go-to defender.
She scored 20 points or more on three different occasions and was second on the team in assists as a ball distributor in addition to her other traits. Morton mentions character being a key element she searches for in a leader herself.
"We have a good group that makes me love coming to practice every day. My experience here has been amazing, I love working with my team and the coaches. My favorite thing about Coach Brew is probably how he helps us grow in basketball as well is in life. He wants us to be good people when we leave, so he’ll coach us in a way that improves our skills and builds character which I don’t think you’d get from most coaches."
Strand, a sharp-shooter from distance, tripled 35 times last season, second-most on the team. More than a quarter of those came in the three games played against Summit League opponents last year (9-for-21) and she's shooting nearly 50 percent from three against those teams over the last two seasons (17-for-35).
Hailing from Fergus Falls, Minn., Strand is a coach's daughter, so has been instilled with the work-hard attribute that makes teams rise to the top. A regular in the gym both before and after practices, Strand has worked on honing her game despite a major knee injury that wiped out an entire year athletically for her.
It did not slow her down academically as she's already graduated with her degree in psychology. She knows the unique chance she's been given to play basketball while she can earn a fifth year to work on an advanced degree.
"I'm thankful for the opportunity I was given to play the game I love, at the next level, for such a great university," Strand said. "It’s been a great experience playing with all of my awesome teammates and for such a supportive community."