Ave Maria University is interested in cultivating every aspect of a student: spiritually, academically and physically. It takes a dedicated, talented, driven person to succeed both in the classroom and on the court, and sophomore women’s basketball player Emily Acosta can attest to that. She was originally drawn to Ave’s basketball program because she saw an ideal opportunity to pursue her “dream of becoming a college basketball player,” and to join as part of the “most successful program on campus.” Acosta’s love of the game, her teammates, and her coach all contribute to an overall incredible experience that she considers a blessing. Basketball is her “go-to therapy,” that serves to clear the mind and help her become the best version of herself. The sport itself, and the community it fosters, is a gift that Emily is grateful for every single day. She praises the team’s “good chemistry on and off the court,” believing that their repeated success is attributed to a positive group dynamic. Acosta also accredits the team’s success to their devoted coach: Bob Batson. “Not only does he guide us in basketball, but also with school and even life,” Emily explains. She describes Batson as an “outstanding mentor who wants nothing but the best for us.” Knowing the difficulties student-athletes face in an effort to maintain grades and keep up with a demanding training schedule, Emily notes that Batson “emphasizes school first to keep us in check.” Although it is difficult to strike a balance between sports, school, and other extra-curricular activities, Emily knows that a commitment to her education is what will secure her future. As she and her teammates continue reinforcing their winning streak while training and studying, the aim for Ave’s women’s basketball team remains clear: “our goal is to get to Sioux City, Iowa to compete in the national tournament.” The Ave Maria women’s basketball team is comprised of hardworking, passionate individuals like Emily, who are committed to receiving an authentically Catholic education, growing in skill, and earning a spot at nationals.