Over the last four years the Calvin women’s basketball team has featured a strong Rocky Mountain flair.
This year’s Calvin women’s basketball team features seniors Stephanie Coors, Baylee GalanBrowne, and Abbie Cooley as well as junior Sara Nealy. The Colorado quartet all hail from the greater Denver area.
Coors is a smooth-operating wing forward with all-conference honors included in her Calvin résumé. GalanBrowne has been a key outside shooting threat from her shooting guard position, while Cooley and Nealy are lead ball handlers and defenders in the backcourt.
Coors and Nealy are graduates of Valor Christian High School from the suburbs of Denver. GalanBrowne graduated from neighboring Evergreen High School, a conference rival of Valor Christian. Cooley meanwhile is from Castle View High School in Castle Rock, Colorado, just south of Denver.
Together the Colorado quartet has found a home away from home on the Calvin campus.
“I chose Calvin because I loved the family atmosphere and it felt like home,” said GalanBrowne of her choice to attend Calvin four years ago. “It was a smaller school with great academics and a strong women’s basketball tradition.”
In her first two years at Evergreen High School, GalanBrowne was a member of back-to-back state championship teams in girls basketball. As a junior and senior however, she watched rival Valor Christian win state titles with Coors and Nealy playing roles in the title runs.
Despite the rivalry, Coors, Nealy, and GalanBrowne teamed up on the same summer AAU travel team. In addition, the trio were all trained by former Calvin men’s basketball standout Derek Griffin ’09, who now lives and works as a coach and trainer in the Denver area.
Cooley went head-to-head once with her future Calvin team- mates as a high school player while also bumping into them during summer ball.
“The thing about Colorado basketball, everyone knows every- one,” said Coors. “We all knew each other beforehand.”
A common theme with the four players was the willingness to leave home and start a new adventure. “There aren’t that many colleges or universities in Colorado, particularly small schools,” said Cooley. “I knew I wanted to keep playing basket- ball while continuing my education, so moving away wasn’t an issue for me.”
As the youngest of the four, Nealy followed the lead of the three who arrived at Calvin a year earlier. “I loved the team dynamic, and I wanted a small classroom size,” said Nealy. “Like the others, [Calvin] felt like home when I came for a visit.”
GalanBrowne is set to graduate this spring with a degree in mechanical engineering. She is busy working with her senior design team on her senior project and has a job lined up with the Grand Rapids office of AECOM Engineering. Coors is a sociology major with a minor in kinesiology. She has plans to attend graduate school after completing her Calvin degree this spring. Cooley is an exercise science major with plans to attend graduate school with the future goal of becoming a strength and conditioning coordinator. Nealy has one year left to go but, like Coors, is a sociology major.
Third-year Calvin head women’s basketball coach Mark Christner ’99 states that each of the four Colorado natives add to the program in their own way. “All four contribute heavily to our team, both on and off the court,” said Christner. “They have different gifts as basketball players but the thing that I value the most is that they are positive, hard-working young women who support their teammates and our program. We are grateful to have them and love that they are Knights.”