Hunger, Humility and Teamwork Cook Up Historic Season

Coach Jacie Hoyt, Ericka Mattingly recap the team’s journey to winning the WAC
Girls pour bottles of water over Coach Jacie – conference champion gear front and center in photo

Although it’s been nearly seven weeks since the KC Roos women’s basketball team made UMKC history by winning the WAC championship, the celebration and excitement carry on as if it had just happened yesterday.

We caught up with head coach Jacie Hoyt and leading point guard, senior Ericka Mattingly to reflect upon the team’s incredible journey leading up to this major achievement and their hopes for the future.

Hoyt said that at the start of the season, the team knew it wanted to win the conference championship ‑ and the players believed they were capable of doing so, but they also knew they had to take it one day, one game at a time. Last season, the team lost in the semi-finals to New Mexico State, who went on to win the WAC and a spot in the NCAA tournament. With a sour taste in their mouths and unfinished business to handle, the KC Roos used that as motivation all season long, ending the year with a 21-10 record.

Ericka Mattingly stands on ladder and cuts the net

“Our team has a motto that never changes – be uncommon. We talk daily about being uncommon in everything we do from basketball to school to being representatives in our community and everything else in our lives. We feel that if we make uncommon choices and decisions each day, they’ll add up to something that separates us from others,” Hoyt said.

“We were always pushing each other to be the best we could be." - Mattingly

It took being uncommon to secure the program's first-ever regular-season conference championship and NCAA Women’s Division I Basketball Tournament berth. Though the NCAA tournament was cancelled due to COVID-19, the team still has plenty to celebrate as the recognitions keep coming in:

  • WAC Coach of the Year – Jacie Hoyt
  • WAC Player of the Year – Ericka Mattingly
  • Spire Sportswoman of the Year – Ericka Mattingly
  • Back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1991 - 1992

“I was ecstatic to learn about being named Sportswoman of the Year by the Kansas City Sports Commission,” Mattingly said. “When Coach Jacie called me to let me know I had been chosen and to tell me who I was going to be in company with, it was an amazing feeling! There are going to be KC Super Bowl champs there. So, I am super excited and grateful receive that award.”

Though much of the season’s success is attributed to Mattingly’s contributions, becoming just the second Roo player to surpass 1,000 points in two years, she and Hoyt say it’s all about teamwork.

“I’ve learned many lessons in my coaching career, one being that it’s incredibly hard to win, and you have to have the right people to get it done,” Hoyt said. “Receiving the Coach of the Year recognition is a true reflection of my staff and my team.”

That same attitude is reflected throughout the entire squad. Hoyt said winning a championship is all about surrounding yourself with the right people. She said the women’s coaching staff works tirelessly at their craft and has the integrity and motives to invest in each player the right way; and they sought to recruit players who are high-achieving, competitive and who value hard work. These things are the ingredients that helped cook up a history-making season in addition to collaborative team effort.

"I believe that we have the respect of the Summit League after what we did this year, and we want to go into the new league and show them what we are all about.” - Hoyt

“I love those girls and would do anything and everything for them,” said Mattingly, adding that she also has a great relationship with Hoyt, who they affectionately call Coach Jacie. “I know that, from my two years, I have developed friendships that will last for years to come.

“The biggest lesson that I will take away from Coach is to always push yourself to be the best you can be. Speak up and be loud and proud in yourself and your goals. Be passionate and always do it with God in your corner!”

Ericka holds WAC championship sign smiles while interacting and celebrating with teammates

Having missed the opportunity to keep going and compete in the NCAA tournament, Hoyt said the disappointment of not being to play due to the coronavirus will be motivation for next year. The third-year head coach, who brought instant success to the KC Roos when she took over in 2017, said she’s not a big goal person, but she believes in doing your absolute best every day and seeing what happens over time.

“Nobody knows when this COVID stuff will clear up, and we certainly don’t know what it looks like when it does,” Hoyt said. “I just want to say that our team came out victors, not victims of the circumstances. I believe that we have the respect of the Summit League after what we did this year, and we want to go into the new league and show them what we are all about.”

As Mattingly prepares for virtual commencement and closes out her collegiate journey with a degree in criminal justice and criminology, she is excited to pursue a career in coaching.

“I have always been passionate about helping others, and especially helping young women be able to have successful careers, get better on the court and get better off the court as well,” Mattingly said. “Having an influence in changing their lives like my coaches have done for me.”

As for her teammates and the newcomers joining the team next year, she advises them to always stay hungry.

“Push yourself to be the best you can and make sure that you are embracing the present,” Mattingly said. “I know things get hard, and being a student-athlete is not easy, but appreciate it while you can. There is so much to be grateful for!”

Recap the season

Published: Apr 28, 2020