An old adage that’s proven true time and time again is a college athlete’s greatest period of growth comes during the maturation from a freshman to a sophomore. There is a natural learning curve that takes its course, ultimately benefitting a program with an impact player that a coach can build a team around.
There may be no finer example on the Linfield campus than Lindsey Gummersall.
Since playing in 24 games as a freshman in 2008-09, the 6-1 post player has rounded into one of the Northwest Conference’s most versatile and well-balanced players. Having not started a game during her first season, Gummersall has become a mainstay in the starting lineup as a sophomore and has given the ‘Cats an inside-outside threat that makes other players around her better.
For Gummersall, the transition came with the announcement of new head coach Casey Kushiyama and with it, came heightened levels of expectations.
“I think my mindset has changed with expectations,” reflects Gummersall. “I didn’t have very much expected of me as a freshman but this season Coach Kushiyama laid out from day one that I would be playing a lot more minutes than last year, setting that up for me so I could start processing the transition.”
Averaging 31 minutes a game allowed Gummersall to develop her skills in a wide variety of ways. Spending most of her time in the paint and playing only 14.8 minutes per contest last season, Gummersall has expanded her game to the perimeter this winter.
“I’ve been put into a lot of different situations this year and have been able to explore different parts of the game that I didn’t get to do as much last year,” notes Gummersall. “My 3-point shooting has gone up a lot and because of the minutes I have played more on the wing.”
Her increase in production is impossible to ignore.
The sophomore from Seattle, Wash., leads the ‘Cats in rebounding (7.5 per game), blocks (17) and is second on the team in scoring (11.8 points per game).
“What I love most about Lindsey’s increased productivity is that her efficiency remained the same,” says Kushiyama. “She is so versatile that it allows me to move her all over the court and put her in positions to succeed.”
While improvements in her outside shooting are the most glamorous of all the statistical improvements, Gummersall will tell you that there is yet a bigger growth in a category that is reflective of a program that stresses defense and rebounding.
“Coach has put an immense focus on the defensive and rebounding efforts, telling us that was how we were going to win games,” notes Gummersall, whose 7.5 rebounds per game has improved from her 2.7 average last year. “I would like to say consistency in terms of rebounding has been my biggest improvement. Last year I was off and on in games but it’s gotten a lot more consistent this year.”
That consistency has been a product of what has gone on behind the scenes for Gummersall.
“Basketball is just really fun for me,” explains Gummersall, a graduate of Seattle Preparatory School. “I think that is a really huge part of it, that people are having fun and clicking so I think personality wise I have fun and work hard every day.”
Leading a young team that is becoming battle-tested, Gummersall is one of five promising sophomores who are playing significant minutes for Kushiyama. In the midst of her breakout season, it could be a natural time for complacency to set it.
Not for Gummersall.
“Strength,” says Gummersall without batting an eye when asked about any other aspect of her game that need improving. “I’m definitely not one of the most physically strong players. That is a struggle sometimes against bigger girls inside. I need to work on that while maintaining my offensive game.”
With a love for the game and passion to improve, don’t expect Gummersall’s progress to plateau. Kushiyama is well aware of the promising future ahead for Gummersall.
“I foresee Lindsey being an NWC all-star this season and a mainstay on the all-conference team for the next two years,” says Kushiyama. “She is an awesome player and a great teammate. She has a great attitude and her very high basketball I.Q. is one of her greatest strengths.”
Smart both on and off the court, Gummersall leads the club in one other category: grade point average. This prompted Kushiyama to describe the exercise science major as the “epitome of a student-athlete.”
While the youthful Wildcats continue to grow with every practice and game, Gummersall has noticed the growth.
“I think that the past couple weeks we have clicked as a team,” reflects Gummersall. “The chemistry has improved a lot. As long as you try and keep a positive attitude about things and keep improving I think that’s a huge thing.”
There is no ignoring the strides this group of Wildcats, and most notably Gummersall, have made.
With an engaging personality off the court and a well-rounded game on the court, Gummersall has emerged as a gem to watch for some time to come.
--Eric Evenson ‘11
Sophomore post excelling on the court and in the classroom
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128