Story courtesy: Matthew Bonnette, McNeese Director of Athletic Communications
McNeese’s men’s and women’s basketball teams will hit the hardwood on Monday for the first time this season, but due to the damage caused by Hurricane Laura to the H&HP Arena, the teams will relocate for the first few weeks of preseason practice.
The Cowboys will set up shop at Louisiana-Lafayette while the Cowgirls will be housed on the LSU campus and practice at Baton Rouge area high schools and possibly at Baton Rouge Community College and/or Southern University.
“All of our kids have been displaced since August 24th,” said Cowboys’ head coach and McNeese interim AD Heath Schroyer. “It’s been extremely difficult for them but I’m so proud of everyone. They are resilient and extremely excited and proud to represent McNeese and Southwest Louisiana this season.”
The Cowboys will be housed at ULL until secure housing can be found in Lake Charles as well as a facility closer to home. The same goes for the Cowgirls.
“I want to thank Dr. (Daryl) Burckel, Coach Schroyer and Bridget Martin for doing everything possible to help make this relocation happen for our program,” said Cowgirls’ head coach Kacie Cryer. “I would also like to thank LSU for rolling out the red carpet for our players to help make this happen. Without the help of many people, it would not be possible. We are truly grateful for this amazing opportunity to get back together and begin training for our upcoming season.”
Both teams will continue to follow COVID guidelines set by the NCAA and the schools to where they are staying and practicing.
“Each member of our program will be tested and will wear face masks around campus and while on the court and in the weight room,” said Cryer about the Cowgirls.
“We will comply with all of the NCAA requirements in order to use the ULL facilities,” said Schroyer concerning the Cowboys.
“I can’t thank (ULL head coach Bob) Coach Marlin and the entire ULL administration for making room for us in their dorms and allowing us access to their facilities,” said Schroyer. “They have been extremely helpful in this process.
“Our program has had to deal with so much more than any other program in the country,” said Schroyer. “However, our kids have stayed together and committed to our program, our university and this community. I love this group of young men. Honestly, they are just made a little different.”
“We are so proud of our young ladies on how they have handled so much adversity as we have all navigated through these tough times with the devastation to Lake Charles and all surrounding areas,” said Cryer. “Our ladies have taken great pride in being able to have the opportunity to get back together and get back to work so we can be a light for the Lake Charles community during these times.”
Academics will continue as scheduled as McNeese started back with classes, via virtually, on September 18.
The NCAA recently voted to begin the basketball season on November 25, however the Cowboys and Cowgirls are still working to finalize schedules and a place to play home games.
“We don’t know where we’ll play or how many games we will be able to play, but we are committed to representing our community, our university, and competing for a Southland Conference championship,” said Schroyer. “We will be ready for when that time comes. This community is in our hearts and part of our soul. That won’t go away. We will carry this pride with us into every day.”