Starting 4-2 on the season, Elon women’s basketball has created a solid foundation to further team development and success — with eight freshmen added to the roster this year. Freshmen Raven Preston and Chloe Williams’ journeys to getting on the roster differ, but the foundation of hard work and relentless determination remains consistent.

Preston, the 5’11 guard from Greensboro, has already broken a team record this season for the most rebounds for an Elon freshman with 15. 

According to Preston, the upperclassmen on the roster have created an environment of mutual respect and admiration for each other, which translates to chemistry and success on the court.

“Knowing that it’s not about me personally, and that it’s about the team’s journey to win championships means so much to all of us,” Preston said. 

Williams, also a 5’11 guard but from Wake Forest, emphasized how she appreciated how supportive the team and coaching staff were to her even before accepting her on the roster.

“Throughout my recruitment process, I ended up getting hurt. Seeing the program always support me and show love for me prior and after the injury was amazing,” Williams said. “They were always in my corner but never promised me anything and always pushed me to work hard. It was like they could see me coming here and making an impact in my freshman year and years on after that.”

Williams said now, after gaining a lot of playing time so far this season, it has made her confidence rise even more. 

“Seeing that my coaches and teammates trust me to have the ball in my hands in some crucial moments in the game — it’s crazy and it means so much,” Williams said. 

Head coach Charlotte Smith has the highest praise for her eight freshmen along with all of the upperclassmen leadership — led by captain and graduate student Evonna McGill. McGill averages 12 points per game and five rebounds, and also leads her team in holding the younger players accountable. 

Williams said McGill has been more than a leader for the younger girls on the team.

“Evonna is that tough love sister, like she’s gonna give it to you real. She’s gonna tell you how you get here, but I feel like it’s the best type of love because she’s only looking out for you. She wants what’s best for you and the whole team,” Williams said.

The freshmen as well as Coach Smith said they are aware that they are going to lose so much of that senior leadership next season, but Williams emphasized that the large freshman class will bond to prepare for the future.

“We’re going to lose some great seniors next year. But the fact that we have so many freshmen coming in together, it’s going to build chemistry over the years so we can be proud as a group and continue to be successful,” Williams said. 

The environment of the Elon women’s basketball team this year is simple and easily gained, according to Preston. When asked what teammate specifically she was inspired by and looked up to, her response was instantaneous. 

“That’s an easy question,” Preston said. “All of them.”