It’s a Wednesday night like any other at Ratner Athletic Center, with athletes, students, and community members filtering in and out of the building for their daily workouts. As it is the winter season, the women’s basketball team steps onto the court for another day of practice. However, since it is a Wednesday, the squad welcomes to its ranks three unexpected members that constitute the scout team.
Although a relatively new practice for Chicago, the use of scout teams occurs on almost every stage at the collegiate level and beyond. It allows every member of the squad to focus on defeating the other team, instead of occasionally having to “be” the other team in practice. At the Division III level, the limit on the scout team is a maximum of three members, one day a week. The players must also be academically eligible just like any other athlete. Both men’s and women’s college and professional programs have adopted this technique, but what is most interesting about the women’s side is that, more often than not, the scout team members are men.
Such is the case with the Maroons. The three unexpected members are third-years Burke Moser and Jackson Garrey and fourth-year Cole Thoms. If the names sound familiar they probably are; all three men play significant roles for the football squad. Moser is the starting quarterback, Thoms was a starting wide receiver, and captain Garrey holds down the defensive end of the gridiron.
“I joined kind of just to stay in shape over winter and play some hoops,” said Moser. Garrey, however, had a different set of motives when accepting the offer to play with the women’s team. “I joined primarily because I get to hang out with some campus celebs once a week, also known as the women’s basketball team,” he said.
The women probably couldn’t ask for better competition from an athletic standpoint, as Moser, Thoms, and Garrey stand at over six feet and can jump out of the gym. Luckily, that is exactly what the Maroons want. They get a chance to face off against athleticism that they probably won’t see in a game, and therefore the effort must be constant.
Not only are the scout players advantaged in terms of athleticism and height, but these particular players also aren’t something to laugh at on the court. All three men play in the Chicago Basketball League and earned All-Star honors. Moser took home the title this past year.
Garrey certainly has a sense of humor about the match-ups. “I really enjoy coming in each and every week and holding third-year Stephanie Anderson completely scoreless in practice,” he said. Thoms, however, admits that the scout team is occasionally out of its league. “Best memory so far was being thrown to the wolves my first practice and being asked to press full-court,” he said. “It was a pretty humbling experience to get run into the ground by ballers barely half my size.”
One would expect the more athletic scout team players to loaf in practice, but they are also dedicated to their role. Every member attends film sessions with the team and is assigned to emulate a player on the opposing team. Aside from occasionally being late to film, the scout teamers are constantly engaged, running through their offense on one side of the court while the actual players warm up and do offensive drills.
“Every Wednesday, I’m usually being aggressive getting some boards, or just flat-out dunking on the girls,” said Moser of his contributions. (It seems that most of the women’s team would refute the claim of dunks). Garrey, on the other hand, brings a deeper level of engagement to the team. “Aside from the givens, such as basketball shoes, I always bring a desire to help the team win and improve,” he said.
Regardless of motivations, the scout team brings much to the table for the women’s basketball squad. Every player on the team appreciates the commitment that the three men give to the program, and every player has acknowledged that the trio makes the unit better. Indeed, after implementing the scout team program last year, the Maroons went 12–2 in conference play.
Editor's Note: Britta Nordstrom is a member of the women's basketball team.