A new look for SPU Women’s basketball

Mike Simonson has a championship mentality


Blake Dahlin

Redshirt Freshman Bayley Brennan shoots during the third period of SPU’s victory over Puget Sound.

Brandon Bee, Staff Writer

A new season is starting for Seattle Pacific University women’s basketball, and as teams look to compete for the GNAC championship, everyone has the same goal: to hold the winning title at the end of the season. 


SPU’s women’s basketball coach Mike Simonson hopes that the Falcons will be on top of the GNAC standings at the end of the season. “I think, at the end of the day, if we come in and work hard every day, then we could really compete for the top half and even a GNAC championship,” Simonson said.


Mike Simonson is headed into his second year as head coach for the SPU women’s basketball team. Before becoming a head coach a year ago, he was an assistant coach at SPU for two years which prepared him for a head coaching role. The women’s basketball team made the NCAA tournament in his second year at SPU.


Last season, the women’s basketball team had four seniors. Those seniors graduated and replacing them are four freshmen that are looking to build upon the culture and the atmosphere that has already been built. 


These freshmen include redshirt point guard Bayley Brennan, guard Hunter Beirne and posts Kayla Brundidge and Grace Sterk. 


As a team, SPU finished with a record of 8-19 and ended up eighth in the conference last year. This season, SPU was picked ninth in the GNAC Conference by the conference coaches. Simonson likes the aspect of being underrated so that his team does not experience any pressure and they can just go out and play.


Simonson has two experienced captains, a luxury that most other teams do not have.


Guard Hailee Bennett is coming back to reprise her role as captain as she is going into her junior year. Last season, Bennett averaged 7.7 points per game.


The other captain, Ashlynn Burgess, is a junior transfer from Wenatchee Valley College in central Washington. A season ago at Wenatchee Valley College, Burgess averaged a team high of 18.5 points per game. 


Simonson said she has fit well with the team and is ready to lead.


“Every year our main goal is to have a passionate basketball team. That’s our core value,” Simonson said. 


“Every day, we have focus-driven goals where we really try to practice the things of our culture to be passionate people. We really try to instill that every day. And passionate to me is not just on the basketball court, it is also for your life and your academics and all those things.”


Simonson expects there to be challenges for his team in the upcoming season.


“We have five new players, so we are a little inexperienced. We have to hit the ground running getting experience early,” Simonson said.


“We have to get over that hump. But I do think, from a talent standpoint, we will be just fine. It’s just the experience piece that we need to gain.”


The Falcons have a chance to gain some experience in their first few games, which are Friday and Saturday, Nov. 8 and 9, at Lumberjack Arena in Arcata, California against Humboldt State University and Fresno Pacific University, respectively. 


Humboldt State was in the NCAA West Division II Regional Tournament a season ago.


Simonson said that the first few games will be a “measuring stick” to see how good the team is and will be in the future.