by SAM AMADEO
Becca Hittner is hard to miss on the basketball court. Her fiery red hair drenched in sweat can make even the most nearsighted fan in nosebleed seats spot her on the court. In high school Becca played for Dowling Catholic where she lead her team to the State Championship in 2014 and to the semifinals in 2015. She averaged 19-points and 8-rebounds per game and was a three-time all-conference selection. Hittner was well sought after by numerous top colleges, and luckily for Bulldog fans she chose to take her talents to Drake University.
Hittner became an instant star for the Bulldog women’s basketball team. In her first year alone she was on the All-MVC First Team and was the MVC Freshman of the Year. Over the course of her college career she would help lead the Bulldogs to three NCAA National Championship appearances. In her junior year her accolades continued to stack up becoming once again a member of the All-MVC First Team, a WBCA All-Region Finalist, and won the Jackie Stiles MVC Player of the Year for a second consecutive season. She also set a career high in points scored in a single game with 37-points against Missouri State and lead the MVC in points-per-game with 19.7-points. As Hittner enters her senior season for the Bulldogs she is grateful for the awards, but in the grand scheme of things they mean little to her.
“It’s never been about the awards or accomplishments, so these things don’t really affect me. My focus is on what I can do to help our team win,” Hittner said. “When you get to play in the offensive system we have, we all score and we all can pass, so it’s just fun basketball to play. It’s crazy that it’s already my last year, but I really want to just leave it all out there and make the most of it.”
Bulldogs basketball is still a little over a month away from starting its season, but the women’s team is hard at work preparing for the season. They are knee deep in what Hittner calls ‘preseason workouts’.
“Preseason workouts consist of weights, small group workouts, team workouts, extra shooting on our own, and watching film,” Hittner stated. “We’ve had a really good summer and a good start to preseason. Everyone’s been working hard and we’ve had a really good energy and intensity in our workouts. It’s getting me super excited for actual practices and games to start up.”
With games against big schools, such as Oklahoma, Hittner is excited to get the season started.
“The Florida Thanksgiving tournament is one I’m pretty excited for. We start out with our game against Purdue and there will be good competition down there. I’m looking forward to playing some of those teams,” Hittner said. “Also, being from Iowa, I look forward to playing the other in-state schools. Our entire schedule has good competition on it, so I’m really looking forward to taking the season game-by-game.”
Drake women’s basketball is no stranger to success. Last year the women finished the season with an astonishing 27-6 (17-1) record and the season before finishing with an unbelievable 26-7 (18-0) record. For many players and teams it would be easy to let that kind of success get to one’s head, but not for Hittner or her fellow players.
“It’s more about the motivation we feel going forward than dwelling on the success we have had. We aren’t satisfied with what we’ve done. Yeah, we had success, but we want to continue to get better and do something special come March. We come in each day with this mindset, and it allows us to really push each other to improve and compete even more,” Hittner recounted. “This offseason, there’s been a heightened sense of motivation from this past season. I can feel it and I can see it in our coaching staff and in the team. I think it’s important to keep the mindset of taking each day as it comes. Our coach talks a lot about staying present and controlling the things you can control.”
Success is never guaranteed and Hittner knows it. The Bulldog women’s basketball team has lost in the first round of the NCAA National Championship the past three years. To Kansas State, Texas A&M, and last year to Missouri by a single point in overtime.
“I think we’ve grown each year in terms of our post-season play that I’ve been here. I think year by year we’ve gained experience and raised our expectations. It’s what makes this year super exciting,” Hittner said. “We have a really good team and we’re looking to do something really special this year. Like I said earlier, we can’t focus on March. That will come. Right now it’s just focusing on our chemistry and getting better everyday.”
It’s hard to ask for any better from Hittner or the women’s basketball team. But we hope they carry on as they have for the past few years. And we can only hope they continue their success when Hittner departs the team in May. Potentially looking at a professional career in the WNBA.
“It’s been my dream to play basketball professionally. When the time comes, I will definitely explore whatever options come my way in terms of that. But that’s something I’ll worry about and think more about after season.”
Catch Becca Hittner and Drake women’s basketball in their season opener on October 29, an exhibition game against Central Missouri. The Drake Bulldogs women’s basketball team officially begins their season with a home opener against South Dakota State on November 8.