Student Athlete Column: From Behind the Lens

Athletes spend so much time playing sports that they often forget to watch them. Kelly has had that opportunity with Fordham Women’s Basketball and taken much from it as she looks forward to capturing the culture they have created and instilled in their program and apply it to her team and life.


Coach Gaitley and Fordham Women’s Basketball’s approach is something that other athletes, or anyone, can apply to their own teams or lives. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Kelly Bright, Staff Writer

As a college athlete, you spend so much time wrapped up in playing sports you tend to forget just how fun watching them can be.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to travel with the Fordham women’s basketball team for their first road game of the 2021-2022 season. They asked me to come with a camera and essentially document the trip. I agreed to go with the intent of gaining experience in content creation and digital storytelling, but I ended up getting more out of it than that: an appreciation for what makes great teams great. 

Everyone has been hyping up this so-called ‘new era’ of Fordham Basketball with the inaugural year of the Neptune administration promising much needed change for a team that has not finished above .500 in conference play since 2007. Most people forget that we are in year 11 of the Stephanie Gaitley era and it’s been all too kind. Coach Gaitley has been named Fordham’s “Iron Major” coach of the year four times and brought two A-10 Championship rings back to the Bronx during her tenure. After 48 hours alongside her and her team, it’s obvious why.

The best teams are the best at the little things. Success comes down to the mastery of minutia, of seconds and inches, especially in such an intricate sport like basketball. I mean in last year’s NBA Eastern Conference Finals Kevin Durant’s shoe size sent Milwaukee to their first championship since 1971. Sitting in the locker room, camera on, I watched as Coach Gaitley wrote out the words ‘details and discipline = victory’

The slogan made perfect sense for a team I’d been filming for weeks leading up to this trip. I’d seen firsthand just how extreme their attention to detail really is. Every minute of their practice is calculated, each aspect of their physical training off the court monitored and perfected. They have routines for meals, bus rides, warm ups — even as specific as the amount of water in each of their protein shakes after practices. They are on time for everything and by on time I mean at least 15 minutes early. It is no surprise this is the same team that in the height of COVID-19, despite being tested over 1,400 times, returned zero positive results. 

The team was up at seven for an 11:30 a.m. scheduled game, tested on the scouting report for Seton Hall University. The quiz questions ranged from defensive keys against their starting point guard to as specific as how many free throw attempts one of the other team’s second unit guards had taken on the year. Nobody got an answer wrong. 

Seeing all of this as a student-athlete myself through the lens of my handheld camera made me want to apply it to my own team and sport. Their dedication to achieving a common goal is inspiring and something I believe can be applied to not only athletics but also life in general. Dreams don’t come true overnight and luck always favors the prepared. We’re always told as athletes to control what we can control and good things will follow. How ironic — details and discipline — both in your control. 

The Rams went on to beat their Big East opponent by nearly 20 points. One of their fifth year seniors, Kendall Heremaia, surpassed 1000 career points. Graduate transfer Asiah Dingle earned Conference Player of the Week after posting a double double in this one and 34 points in their opener against Quinnipiac University.

I look forward to filming more games with them in the future and continuing to be motivated by the longstanding culture they have created and instilled in their program.