Changing Culture for the Roxbury Girls Basketball Team


Credit: Joe McDonald

2021-2022 Girls Basketball Team

Girls Basketball: Old Culture

In past years, the Roxbury Girls Basketball Team has been underperforming. According to, the past five to eight years have been full of seasons below the average of .500; meaning the team withholds the same amount of wins as losses. Some years they achieved ten wins and lost seventeen games. Other years, only three or six wins. When opposing teams looked at Roxbury’s record, they would walk into the gym with their heads held high expecting an easy win. Opposing teams would even choose to play Roxbury on their senior night to not lose. Most fans wouldn’t even come and watch. However, the past two seasons have shown growth in Roxbury basketball, no matter what the record says. 

Beyond just looking at the actual records for past seasons, it is about more than just the amount of losses. There have been other factors that have made the basketball culture decline. Each year when girls are looking to try out, they back down due to the losing record of the team that preceded them. Girls who have played basketball their entire life would quit. The number of girls in the basketball program has become lower and lower each year. It is really hard to obtain a winning team and record if there are barely enough girls to play with.

As of now, there appears to be a strong urge to change the culture of girls basketball. Currently, the group of girls that are playing basketball wants to challenge other teams and possibly win more games. Two seasons ago, Ryan Roumes was named the new Head Coach. He has stepped in wanting to change the culture of the past seasons. Luckily, he was able to start at the right time with a good bunch of girls that have been willing to work hard. The girls in the program have set goals for themselves and the team, one of them having a .500 record this season. Again, the girls have a desire to make a change for the program, but they know it isn’t going to be easy. They understand that it is going to take more than a few seasons, but they need to spread the word to younger girls to continue playing.

How the Culture is Changing

Head Coach Ryan Roumes is looking to achieve big goals after being named the head coach. After an interview with him, it is very clear that he is trying every single day to think of ways for the team to grow and come together to get wins. One main question that I asked was about his opinion on his coaching the past two seasons. He responded with, “You are what your record says you are. So in that case, not great. However, I am trying daily, to find new ways to reach the girls on the team, improve as a coach, and create ways to put the players in the best position to have fun, win games, and have a great basketball experience.”

Coach Roumes has been looking for ways to change the culture. As soon as he was named head coach, he created a word for Roxbury girls basketball to focus on: T.R.U.S.T. The acronym is used to represent Roxbury Girls Basketball athletes and the types of players they are. It means being tough, relentless, understanding, selfless, and together on and off the court. The Roxbury girls so far have embraced this new culture, trying to better themselves and the team every day. 

Another example of trying to change the culture includes one practice where Roumes printed out an entire article on toughness and posted it throughout the locker room. The article was written by Jay Bilas. He is an American basketball analyst and he wrote an article about what it means to be tough in the game of basketball. Being tough is a “lifestyle” that Coach Roumes wants to instill in the players. Despite all the challenges, he wants the players to always stay tough no matter the circumstances. 

Even though the girls’ current record is 4-10, if people come out to watch, they will notice how hard the girls work to stay in the game with better teams. After a recent practice, Coach Roumes described that every single one of the games is the same. He said, “If a person or team asked me to describe how our season has been going, I would only have to describe one game and then tell them every other game after that is the same.” 

These past two seasons have been looking decent for the Roxbury Gaels. The community needs to continue changing the girls’ basketball culture. Every player is sick and tired of hearing about how awful the girls’ team is doing or how no one comes to watch. The need for a culture change is slowly, but surely, turning around for the program. The players need to spread the word to younger basketball players that are looking up to them so that maybe one day they are playing in the same gym with the same head coach with the same word on the back of their shirts reading…T.R.U.S.T.

Player Interviews & Opinions on the Season

Now, it is important to discern what the girls on the team are thinking about the changing culture. I was able to interview Kendall Fehsal and Kelly McDonald. These two players have played important roles on the team throughout the season as two stand-out juniors. I asked each of them for their opinions on the season. 

Kendall Fehsal responded, “I think the season is a little rough so far. I hope we can finish out well. We try hard in games but just can’t finish.” 

Kelly McDonald responded, “I have been fairly happy with how most of our practices have gone. I’m not too happy about the season so far but I am excited and positive about our future games.” 

These two answers to the opinions on the season have shown two things. First, the girls are trying extremely hard in each game they play but just aren’t getting the outcome they want or deserve. Second, there are a lot of positives even though the record isn’t what the team wants it to be. Despite hardships in the road, the girl’s basketball program still has that spark of hope and positive energy. They aren’t willing to give up just yet. They are going to work hard for the last few weeks of the season and hopefully come out with a win. 

Another important question that I asked the girls was, “Do you think our record represents the team’s potential?” 

Kelly McDonald responded, “I think our team has more potential than our record. We have the athleticism to be better than our record shows but unfortunately, we only have a small number of girls on the team and it hurts us in games where we need energy and all six players have played pretty much the whole game already.” This statement shows the worrisome loss of culture. There is barely even a varsity team! The Roxbury basketball team is looking for a change. 

Kendall Fehsal similarly said, “No, I think our record does not define us because we play so many good games with a lot of effort but the final score does not represent that.” 

As you can see, there is a lot of positivity racing through the players on the court. No matter the record or the losses, the girls are looking to play hard and give everything they have. Players on the team even say the record isn’t what it should be. This team deserves a better outcome for all the hard work they put into every game. Even though they aren’t seeing their results, the team is growing. Others on the team or people watching from the stands may not see it yet, but the potential is there. There is going to be a change. The positivity, determination, and work ethic are all there. Something needs to tie it all together. It will happen. They just need to believe. Others need to believe and give them a chance before they make snap judgments about the season. 

Come out and watch the last few weeks of the girls playing. You can find the schedule on or the RoxburyAthletics Instagram page. See how hard the girls work. Make note of the difference from a few years back to now, especially if you knew girls from past programs. There is a positive outlook for upcoming seasons. It is a great time to be a part of a new culture change!