NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Coming off a record-setting season that culminated with winning the Women's Basketball Invitational Championship, the Yale women's basketball team has now turned its attention to 2018-19. The Bulldogs do so under the guidance of one of the team's emotional leaders, as junior guard Gabby Nelson (Hurst, Texas) has been elected captain for next season. She was chosen by her teammates in a vote last month.
"It is a huge honor to be elected captain of the Yale Women's Basketball team," said Nelson. "My teammates are the 14 people that I respect and love most on campus, so I am extremely humbled to have this opportunity to serve them. To me, being captain is playing whatever role my teammates need most at the moment. This role could range from being a vocal leader, a calming presence, or a confidant off the court. I think a captain should do whatever is necessary to lead their team and help them succeed."
Allison Guth, who is heading into her fourth season as Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball, is looking forward to working with Nelson.
"Gabby is the consummate teammate and a shining example of servant leadership," said Guth. "She is most deserving of her teammate's support in electing her captain and we are all looking forward to her leadership in the 2018-2019 season."
Nelson earned the captaincy by spending the past three seasons contributing in a wide variety of ways. She has played in 33 career games, including 17 this past season. She was third on the team in three-point shooting, connecting on 32 percent of her shots.
A leader among Yale's reserves, Nelson played a critical role in one of the turning points of the 2017-18 season. She started her first career game in the Bulldogs' 82-72 upset at TCU -- less than 15 miles from her home -- on Nov. 21. The Horned Frogs were ranked in the top 25 at one point this year, and the victory was part of a 7-3 start to the season for the Bulldogs.
Nelson had dozens of family members and friends in the stands that night, and she drilled a pair of three-pointers in the first half to spur Yale on to victory.
"That's a testament to Gabby," said Guth. "She's a kid who is ready when her name is called. One of the first times in her career we subbed her in, against Fairleigh Dickinson at North Carolina, she hit a three. So it wasn't shocking to see it [against TCU], but it was rewarding. Life isn't always fair, so it was great to see a kid rewarded for her hard work."
The Bulldogs practiced at Nelson's high school -- Birdville -- the next day, visiting her home afterwards.
"My favorite memory thus far [at Yale] has been the opportunity to play at home and beating TCU on the road," said Nelson. "I started my first collegiate game in front of family and friends on the college basketball court I grew up admiring. Adding a win on top of that while showing the team my home and practicing at my high school is something that I will never forget."
Nelson and forward Alexandra Maund (Dorchester, Mass.) will be the only seniors on Yale's roster next season. While the team will thus be relatively young, the Bulldogs will set their sights high coming off a memorable 2017-18 season. In addition to winning the WBI Championship (becoming the first Ivy League women's basketball team to win a post-season tournament), the team set the school record for wins with 19 and earned a spot in the Ivy League Tournament.
"Our team is a group of competitors, so there is always a goal to win an Ivy League Championship and play in the NCAA tournament," said Nelson. "We got a taste of what it is like to play in March this past season through the Ivy Tournament and WBI, but I think it taught us that we aren't satisfied with this result. As a captain, I plan to hold people accountable while also playing my role within the team from a basketball perspective."
Nelson is an economics major in Ezra Stiles college at Yale. She will spend the summer of 2018 in New Haven, working for Yale women's basketball alum and 2010-11 captain Yosepha Greenfield '11. Nelson will be a marketing and business development intern at the educational consulting company that Greenfield co-founded, InGenius Prep.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity