ROCK SPRINGS — The University of Wyoming Cowgirls hosted an open basketball practice on Saturday, Oct. 9, at Western Wyoming Community College’s Rushmore Gymnasium.

Rock Springs native and Wyoming Cowgirls head coach Gerald Mattinson first grabbed the microphone to introduce himself and thanked those in attendance.

The practice got underway at around 1 p.m. and concluded at 3 p.m., with the Cowgirls going through a series of drills and an intense scrimmage.

Drills consisted of spot shooting, layup drills, 2-on-1’s, and even a “five woman weave”.

When the practice concluded, the players and staff introduced themselves to the fans but not before Coach Mattinson showed his admiration for those in attendance, one last time.

“I thought it went well,” Coach Mattinson said about the practice. “I loved our intensity and competitiveness. We need to do more practices such as these so we get out of our comfort zone and get into different gyms. I heard some of the girls comment about how much different it was shooting in here but, overall, I was pleased with what we did.”

Mattinson is a former Mustangs basketball men’s head coach and was quick to show his hometown some admiration.

“Well you know it’s always good to come back to Rock Springs. I still have a lot of family here so it’s nice to be back here. This is a lovely facility, for how old it is, and I’ve always said they’ve done an amazing job at maintaining it.”

When asked about the main reason for a three-hour long bus drive just for a practice, despite the beautiful facilities that are home to the Cowgirls, Mattinson was thinking about the fans and his players.

“We are use to bus rides that long,” Mattinson said as he chuckled. “We have a lot of great fans on this side of the state and we wanted to give them a chance to watch us play. McKinley Bradshaw had some of her family here from Lyman. Lexi Bull’s parents came here from Idaho, so it gives the families a place to come to watch their daughters do what they love.”

The Cowgirls had a historic run last season to win the Mountain West Conference Tournament and were the first University of Wyoming basketball team to win four games in four days. Mattinson recalls what he instilled in his girls.

“All year long I told them that we have to play harder, smarter and longer than our opponents. We even have shirts that say it. That is how we train. When you are in those situations you hope that your conditioning and mental toughness is where it needs to be,” he said.

“It was actually scary doing it because we went into the tournament not playing for about 25 days thanks to COVID. When we got to the tournament, it turned out to be good because we were well rested and the girls never got depressed and they came out and played really well.”

Though Mattinson does like his newcomers, he knows that they are still a work in progress if they want to have similar success this season.

“We can really defend. We did that all of last season. We are still trying to find ourselves, offensively. We lost a big portion of our team from last year, including our starting center Dagny Davidsdottir. So we are still trying to figure out who is going to fill that role but I love our three freshmen. We’ve had some issues with COVID but I like our group and I know they will play hard.”

The Cowgirls kick off their season with an exhibition at home, on Friday Oct . 29, against Colorado Christian, but Mattinson’s final words were for UW Nation.

“We are going to give it all we got this season. I think we have the best fans in the country,” he said.

“I received phone calls today from people telling me they will be at that first exhibition game and they want to be there when the Mountain West Tournament Championship banner is hung up in the rafters.

“I appreciate everybody from all over and we will be giving it our all.”

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