Unselfish culture fuels Yellow Jackets women’s basketball’s continued success

“We are all here for one thing, to win and be the best we can be,” said junior guard Carolyn Wochele.



Baldwin Wallace Women’s Basketball Team at practice February 10th, 2023. Practicing a daybefore their senior day matchup against Muskingum.

The BW women’s basketball team has maintained consistent performance over the years as one of the nation’s Div. III best programs. On March 3, the Yellow Jackets made their fourth consecutive and 17th overall NCAA tournament appearance in a first-round loss to Iowa’s Wartburg College. Players and staff have attributed the program’s continued success to its distinct culture, but what makes that culture so magical?  

The Lady Jackets entered this season as the defending OAC champions. However, they lost two key contributors: All-American forward Lilly Edwards and All-Conference forward Megan Scheibelhut. The staff’s ability to recruit and groom talent in the wings while the veterans shine was critical to their 22-6 record this season.   

“We would make sure to get Kira [Philpot] and Bella [Vaillant] reps in meaningful games as freshman and sophomores so they got that experience,” associate head coach Cody Hartzler said.  

This philosophy paid dividends in 2023, as Vaillant and Philpot filled those roles left behind in the frontcourt for the Yellow Jackets.   

Beyond just in-game reps, coaches build players through calculated training to improve their skills when called upon. Building up young talent through practice and trial by fire is the recipe for BW.  

“They take all our strengths and let us focus on those things while building our other tendencies and skills around that,” said junior Guard Carolyn Wochele. “They help us master what we do best and become more well-rounded.”   

“Coach has got a motto, ‘You get what you emphasize,’ so what that means is we talk about our culture, our core values, daily,” Hartzler said. “And we lift: instead of recognizing or praising someone who gets buckets all the time, we try and lift and find teammates who are doing intangible things. Who is setting the screen, who is encouraging when they are not [on the court].”   

Culture is a highly emphasized item for the team. The coaches emphasize a style of committee instead of over-relying on superstar players. They overwhelm teams with their depth and ball movement so they can send waves of well-rounded players at opponents to tire them out.   

This style of play is not easy to accomplish. It requires a particular type of person to come onto a team and be willing to do non-glamorous things to win, something the coaches monitor carefully during the recruiting process.   

“We really try and figure out how a person is wired,” Hartzler said regarding the staff’s recuriting strategy. “We’re going through the recruiting process telling players [that] pathways to playing time is easier at places other than Baldwin Wallace.”   

Through this up-front process, the coaches round out the roster with individuals ready to take on whatever role necessary and put the team first, leading to the close-knit and positive culture the team is known for.  

Wochele said: “Our coaches and teammates before us have created an incredibly special culture amongst our program. The players before us, lay the foundation of what they wanted the program to look like. We have the slogan ‘One Love’, which ultimately means we all have the same love and goal for one another.   

“We are all here for one thing, to win and be the best we can be. But we must love one another, no matter role, background, or any statistics. Everyone puts their pride and personal goals aside to put the team first,” Wochele said.