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Vormelker, Thiel's women's basketball program look to grow

Mar. 19—Jessica Vormelker's first head coaching position is in a familiar place — leading the Thiel College women's basketball team.

The Grand Valley graduate was one of the most decorated players in school history on and off the basketball court.

This season, though, didn't quite go as planned as the Tomcats closed the season at 0-25 overall.

"It was very difficult," Vormelker said. "There were a lot of ups and downs. It also forced us to grow up."

Vormelker was hampered with a shorthanded, inexperienced roster.

"We only had seven players and five were freshmen," she said. "We didn't have a post player, and some players decided to not continue playing."

Vormelker tried to remain positive, reinforcing that with her team as well.

"In the fourth quarter, I kept telling them that these moments build character," she said. "We can control our attitude and effort. There's no difference for me. If I can have a positive enthusiasm, they can mirror that."

Vormelker was a standout for Thiel, succeeding on the court, in the classroom and in leadership roles.

She was a member of the D3hoops.com 2019 All-America Team.

An honorable mention selection, Vormelker was the first player in Thiel history to be named to a D3hoops.com All-America Team.

Vormelker was a two-time D3hoops.com Great Lakes All-Region Team honoree, including second team accolades in 2019.

A two-time finalist for the prestigious Jostens Trophy (2019, 2018), she was the first women's basketball player in Thiel history to be named the PAC Player of the Year (2019). Vormelker was a four-time All-PAC selection.

Vormelker said watching the scoreboard each game, and not seeing wins was disheartening.

"As a competitor, it made me sick," she said. "It was really challenging."

Vormelker is grateful for the support from her family, friends and the school.

"The AD [athletic director Jason Fautas] understands that things don't happen overnight," Vormelker said.

Former GV girls coach Kim Triskett was a volunteer assistant coach, along with Mark Batt.

"Kim and Mark are two knowledgeable coaches," Vormelker said. "There were a lot of low points. Those two were with me. I relied on my faith to get me through the season."

Five players for Thiel averaged between 8 and 10 points per game.

Maddy Triskett, an Orwell native who graduated from Berkshire High School, averaged 5.5 points.

"She played some good minutes for us," Vormelker said. "Maddy works real hard."

As for next season, Vormelker is anticipating the return of seven players.

"The people we have is the foundation to build upon," she said.

Vormelker hopes to add 10 players.

"I'm recruiting like crazy," she said. "I'm recruiting in Pennsylania and Northeast Ohio. We have one coming in from Texas."

Vormelker is scheduled to host a couple of camps toward the end of the school year.

But the main key is to keep moving forward, bringing in players who fit the program academically and athletically.

"This time to be part of the program," Vormelker said. "We want to get good basketball players and good people.

"This is the lowest the program can look. We'll look back at this and be grateful to go through the bad times."