By Joe Pantorno, Assistant Sports Editor
Thursday and Friday was a pretty busy day for the Hofstra University women's basketball team. After bringing back a big win from Northeastern University in Boston, the Pride returned to Hempstead at 1:30 in the morning, only to assume the normal responsibilities any other college student has on a weekday morning or afternoon.
After a day filled with classes, film and practice, it was straight off campus for the women of blue and gold where I caught up with the them in front of a Stop N' Shop in East Meadow on Hempstead Turnpike.
Clad in their blue tracksuits, twelve ballers, a head coach, an assistant coach and a director of basketball operations were outside this supermarket giving away free tickets for its Sunday game against Old Dominion and raffling off Hofstra t-shirts and memorabilia.
Though to some this may seem like an inconvenience, to the Hofstra Pride, it is anything but that.
"We love doing this stuff," said junior guard Nicole Capurso. "The personalities we have on this team can reach out to all different types of people and its fun just getting out and doing something different."
"We always crack up," said head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey. "Everyone has their own routines and you get yes' and no's like in life and we're all a little delirious from the road trip, but it's fun."
"We're here putting smiles on peoples faces and it's just good to come out to the community and give back," said junior guard Jael Pena. "Hopefully they can give back and come to the games."
This team knows just how much this community means to the school, which is why they take time out of their busy schedules to promote such an exciting team.
"I mean, Hofstra is right in Hempstead and our community is our fan base," said sophomore forward Shante Evans. "It is very important to get them to come to our games."
For those who declined accepting a ticket, a simple smile and "thank you" awaited them from one of the many class acts on this roster.
"They're missing out," said junior guard Candice Bellocchio. "I mean, they don't know any better which is why we have to continue to do our job by promoting and getting the word out there and hopefully little by little they will come."
I have been lucky enough to follow this team and there has always been one thing that has amazed me every time I see them: there is a bond between teammates that I have never seen before.
"This is one of the reasons I came here," said freshman forward Anma Onyeuku. "The team is so close and it doesn't matter whether on the court or off the court it's like a family all the time."
"We just always have a great time," said junior guard Asia Jenkins. "We just really enjoy being around each other."
"You would think we would get tired of each other, but every time we come together we are laughing at something new," said senior center Isoken Uzamere. "It's always a pleasure when we get together and hangout."
"Our team has something special among each other," said assistant coach Jessica Mannetti. "They're family. We have our great days, our not so great days but man they have fun and to be around them, the energy they create is so contagious."
After an hour or so giveaways, messing around and a lot of laughing, it was back to campus to prepare for upcoming games and a postseason run. With hard work in the community, this team is quickly spreading the word that there is something exciting brewing in Hempstead; and you are just going to have to come to the Mack Sports Complex to see for yourself.