Rattlers welcome a new season

Sydney Hendrix shoots a free throw during the team’s first official practice.
Photo courtesy: FAMU Athletics

With the upcoming 2023-2024 basketball season approaching, the Women’s Basketball team has begun their season with walk-on tryouts. 

Vice President and Athletic Director Tiffani-Dawn Sykes named Bridgette Gordon as the new women’s basketball head coach earlier this summer. Gordon’s resume is undeniable, winning a gold medal in the 1988 Summer Olympics and being inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007. She hopes to bring her expertise and turn around the program. 

Last season, the Lady Rattlers finished with a record of 6-23. 

Coach Gordon discussed her plans to bring a winning culture to the hill. 

“The winning starts with me recruiting the right ladies, which starts with their character,” Gordon said. “I call it the three C’s. ‘Character, confidence, and culture.’ If they have those three, it will help me build my culture, but it starts with the basics.”

Gordon’s expectations are minimal since the Rattlers have not had a double-digit win season since the 2016-2017 season when they won 12 games. The most games the team has won in a single season since then have been six. 

Gordon spoke about what a successful season would look like for the Rattlers.

 “We went 6-23 last year, so anything better that is a success but not only with wins and losses but are we being better as a fundamental team,” Gordon said.

The Rattlers have a demanding non-conference schedule before heading into conference play. They play Tennessee, Houston, Michigan, and North Florida. The Rattlers won just 3 (SWAC)Southwestern Athletic Conference games last season, which led them to finish in the bottom three in SWAC rankings. 

The walk-on tryouts had a lot of promising prospects. Some athletes showed promise initially and during stretches, while others had to wait until the ball handling drills to shed their nerves. 

Gordon will have difficult decisions, but none more significant than the ones that included filling her roster with scholarship players. The Rattlers are bringing back five returning players from last season, and the rest are either coming in from the transfer portal or are new recruits. However, Gordon believes in this group. 

Gordon listed her belief in the team and what she sees in the group that shows her promise for the upcoming season.

 “They allow me to push them and change their mindset,” Gordon said. “They are bringing their experiences from last season and pushing the newcomers and just building chemistry.”