On February 7th, 2007, Hilbert lost to Pittsburgh - Greensburg 76-62 which began an 81 game skid. That streak ended on November 23rd, 2010 when Hilbert beat The College of New Rochelle 69-36. Hilbert just missed breaking the D-3 women's basketball all-time infamous record of 83 games still held by Schreiner University with that win. But another streak, this time a winning one, started a few months earlier when Hilbert College got serious about their athletic programs and hired Susan Viscomi to be their Director of Athletics. With Viscomi as Hilbert's new AD, she began a turnaround effort that touched many of Hilbert's teams, but also resulted in hiring Coach Rob Peterson as the women's basketball coach. Peterson, a career coach who understands the game and people who play it, was the coach at the helm when they broke the streak in November 2010 only three games into his tenure. In his first season, Coach Peterson introduced a winning attitude to his team, and even though they clawed their way to a 1-23 season, it was the beginning of something positive at Hilbert.
Let's also take a look at what schools like Hilbert are up against when it comes to Athletics. Hilbert College is a Division-3 school, meaning, they and 449 colleges and universities like it do not offer athletic scholarships. So when a student plays a sport at Hilbert, they do it because they want to play, they love the game; the flip side is an athletic scholarship is not on the line if they decide to quit. That is a serious challenge for any coach, let alone one who is trying to turn a team around. So when Coach Peterson's team broke an 81 game losing streak 3 games into Peterson's first season at Hilbert, it was monumental. For some of his players, it was the first time they had tasted victory on a college court. And then in the month of January, 2012, Hilbert's team won three games. The Coach and his team came closer to finding a winning combination; winning was now becoming a habit. The tide was turning. However, Coach Peterson knew that scouting and recruiting talent was paramount to creating a winning program, and he and his staff went to work. Not only did he have experienced players returning from last season, leaders who now knew they could win and hated to lose, but now had a bumper crop of solid players coming to play basketball with his incoming class for 2012-2013. Susan Viscomi and Coach Peterson now had a chance to turn it up a notch, and I believe they will.
What does a strong athletic program mean to small colleges like Hilbert? Is it all about winning? No; but it is about creating a positive environment for students. It's about hiring coaches who teach more than a certain type of zone defense. It's about showing young men and women a way to handle both winning and losing. In our society, it's obvious learning both skills graciously is needed. And it's about teamwork and the notion that everything is possible. When a potential employer reviews a resume, they are always impressed when they see college athletics, because it means that person can take direction, they understand competition, they support their teammates and they practice their art. So when Hilbert decided to hire Viscomi and Peterson and invest heavily in athletic talent and facilities they did it to build the foundation to help their student population. That willingness to invest and take chances is what will bring benefits to all the students at Hilbert, but especially those who participate. In my opinion, all the good things in life should be at the D-3 level... where people participate not for reward, but because they want to.
Much is made of winning and losing. Make no mistake, they are both important, but let's not kid ourselves, it's a lot more fun winning. As Vince Lombardi, Jr. once said, 'Winning isn't everything--but wanting to win is.' I think this team wants to win.
I hope you agree this team should be fun to watch, and I encourage you to support the players and coaches who are putting so much on the line for Hilbert College. If you're a student, show up. Support your team! Join the 'Hawks Nest' cheering section in the stands. Stand up for a team of young women who are willing to go out and create a positive experience, one that will build a solid reputation for all of Hilbert Athletics. Become the sixth woman and help them turn things around.
Hey, life's short, so why not?
Hilbert's Women's 2012-2013 Basketball Schedule