By Mitch Fink
Boston University News Service
Boston College’s women’s basketball team lost, 82-64, to the Ohio State Buckeyes at Conte Forum Nov. 13, but a crowd of elementary school-aged girls cheered on the Eagles like it was a down-to-the-wire national championship game.
More than a dozen girls watched with their parents from behind the BC bench. On the opposite side of the court, the Mt. Alvernia Academy Girl Scout and Brownie Troops are soaked in the atmosphere.
“Our players take being a role model very seriously, and I love that about them,” said BC Head Coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee postgame. “Even in a game like this when I’m a little frustrated and mad, I know I coach a group of 10 players that have high character.”
Members of the girl scout troop took a tour of the BC women’s basketball locker room. They looked in awe as they high-fived the Eagles players returning to the court after halftime. Erica Marken is an assistant troop leader.
“For young girls to be able to look up to older girls, they can tell they’ve worked really hard to get where they are…Girl Scouts is all about teamwork and community,” she said.
According to Karen Aylward, a leader for the Mt. Alvernia Academy Girl Scout Juniors, the troop has taken an annual trip to a BC women’s basketball or hockey game since 2017, excluding one season during the pandemic.
“Women’s sports show them lots of strong women doing great work,” Aylward said, adding how many members of the troop go on to play basketball for Mt. Alvernia schools.
Anastasia Psikarakis, a fifth grader, said the experience was “really cool.” She said she especially enjoyed watching BC junior Dontavia Waggoner, a tenacious guard who finished the game with nine points and a team-high 13 rebounds.
Caroline Flaherty is a three-sport athlete from Westwood, MA. She celebrated her eighth birthday at the game. Flaherty’s group brought hand-drawn signs to support BC to the game. They belted out chants of “E-A-G-L-E-S!” and “Let’s go BC!,” catching the attention of cheerleaders, fans and players.
During BC’s “Air Guitar Cam” on the video scoreboard, Flaherty and her friends ran down to the front of their section and vigorously strummed along as ACDC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” blared through the speakers.
Even in the waning minutes of the game, with BC trailing by over 20 points, Flaherty’s group started up a chant moments before junior guard JoJo Lacey sank a midrange pull-up jumper. The crowd jumped out of their seats in excitement.
After the game, players trickled into the stands to mingle with their young fans.
“They go out of their way to make sure after the game they take pictures, they’re signing autographs, they’re making sure that they’re being a special person in those little kids’ lives,” Barnabei-McNamee said. “I love that.”