Orange Fanta ’22
Tears of joy flowed as Natalie Watson ’22GS cut down the nets in Minneapolis following PC’s dramatic victory in the national championship game. “To bring this title to Friartown means the world to me,” Watson commented. “I wouldn’t trade this moment for a hundred million TikTok followers.”
The Friars’ 274-point win over UConn capped an unprecedented run for a special group of PC transgender student-athletes. The team went undefeated both in regular season and tournament play, averaging a staggering 320 points per game on 93.5 percent shooting from the field. Watson led the squad with an average of 97 points, 80 rebounds, and 27.5 blocks per game, earning him—er, I mean her—the AP Women’s College Basketball Player of the Year award.
“This title is a credit to the NCAA’s vision,” remarked Coach Jim Crowley.
Crowley is of course referring to the historic decision the NCAA made this year to add, alongside the transfer portal, the transgender portal. This move gives student athletes an additional year of eligibility after transitioning.
“The Dunk was nice and everything,” remarked Justina Minaya ’22GS, “but my heart was really in Alumni Hall.” Minaya first knew she was meant to transition after the men’s program kicked the women’s team out of the Dunkin Donuts Center in order to make up a blizzard-delayed contest of their own against Marquette. The women’s team had been scheduled to host UConn at the Dunk—their signature home game of the season. “I just felt for the Lady Friars, you know? And that’s when I realized… I was a Lady Friar!” Minaya said. For Lucy Horchler ’22GS, the decision to transition started earlier, during the COVID-19 lockdown. “As soon as I grew out my hair and realized I had these golden, flowing locks,” she explained, “I just felt more myself. I played much better than I ever had before.”
In a move that shook college hoops, six former male basketball players joined the women’s team this season. In addition to Watson, Minaya, and Horchler, Allysa Durham ’22GS, Jennai Reeves ’22, and Jamelle Bynum ’23 transitioned as well. All six played an instrumental role in the national championship game, just as they had all season. Durham’s ability to dish and shoot had UConn’s bench in tears, while Bynum broke UConn Guard Evina Westbrook’s ankles on a crossover early in the second half. The Lady Friars never looked back after that.
In his press conference following the massacre, UConn coach Geno Auriemma emphasized he was proud of the way his team played. “The fact that we kept it to a 100-point deficit at halftime, that was exciting for the fans. No one has played Providence that tight all year.” UConn did not utilize the transgender portal this year, and their only losses during the season were to PC. “Of course we need to remember,” Auriemma concluded with a grin, “in women’s sports, second place is the new first.”
The only question in Friartown is whether the team can bottle this magic and repeat as national champions next year. Do we have the beginning of a dynasty on our hands? “The transgender portal was very good to us,” Crowley noted, “and I think it will continue to be.” Rumor has it that Villanova All-American guard Colin Gillespie has decided to transition this summer, and has Providence in his (her?) sights. ESPN analyst Andy Katz tweeted, “This should come as no surprise; he’s always played like a little bitch.”
This NCAA national title comes as the unexpected high point in the College’s celebration of 50 years of women at PC. “It’s an important year at the College,” Doris Burke ’87, ’92G, ’05Hon. said, “and an important year in the demise of women’s sports. But hey, maybe this is what it takes to get T-Swift to come to a game.”