9-13 Meet the Freshmen (Gabe Cerritos)
Danielle Craft, Zharia Hale, Payton Whitmore, Dominique Williams and Gina O'Brien (left to right) are the five incoming freshmen for Weber State's women's basketball team. (Gabe Cerritos / The Signpost)

Every year, there are changes to rosters — that’s the nature of college sports. The Weber State University women’s basketball team graduated three players last season and will be adding five freshmen to the 2016-17 roster.

One of the newcomers for the Wildcats is Zharia Hale of Portland, Oregon. Hale is listed as a guard for the Wildcats.

“I think this season is going to be about finding my role on the team,” Hale said, “seeing what position they’re going to put me at and knowing to always be supportive and cheer on the starters.”

Danielle Craft comes to WSU from Shingle Springs, California.

This is not the first time Craft has been around the Weber State women’s basketball team. She attended several of the team’s games in the Big Sky Tournament and was impressed with their performance.

“They were crazy — It’s just such a different pace,” Craft said. “I knew I had to get more in shape — I had to work a lot harder. It’s way different than high school.”

One of the major challenges that the freshmen will face this season revolves around last season — the winningest season in school history with 23 wins.

While this could be daunting for some players, it is nothing for freshman Payton Whitmore. The guard out of Mesa, Arizona, may be lacking height — standing at only 5 feet 6 inches — but she does not lack confidence.

Heading into the season, Whitmore said her goals were to “make history again — 24 wins, 25 or maybe 26. Just keep building, and I think we have a lot of girls and a lot of potential to go further and further and win some championships.”

Coming from Meridian, Idaho, is freshman forward Dominique Williams. She graduated high school as the career leader in rebounds at Meridian’s Centennial High School and intends to major in political science.

On selecting Weber State to continue her playing career, Williams said, “I really like purple. It’s probably one of my favorite colors. Honestly, I really liked the coaches — Coach Ord was always reaching out to me and always treating me like I was family.”

9-13 Meet the Freshmen (Gabe Cerritos)
The five have formed a clique amongst themselves because they all plan to be here for the next four years. (Gabe Cerritos / The Signpost)

The last of the new Wildcats has already started making an impact for the Weber State team.

Standing at 6 feet 6 inches, Gina O’Brien is already the tallest player in the history of Weber State women’s basketball.

O’Brien is coming to Utah from Melbourne, Australia, and will be the second international player on the team, joining sophomore Yarden Danan.

“I feel I’ll be able to draw some defenders onto me and then be able to kick it out to my fantastic teammates,” O’Brien said. “I think having a mix of small and tall players will be good for us this year.”

While there are many goals the team has for the upcoming season, at least one player has her eyes set beyond this year.

“With five of us as incoming freshmen, we all have kind of formed that clique with just us ’cause we’re going to be here and working together for the next four years,” Whitmore said.

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