COLUMBIA — Rachel Oswald began her basketball career long before college.
“It was always a dream for me to play for the Missouri Tigers because I grew up watching them,” said Oswald, a Boonville native.
Illinois-Springfield (8-22, 6-10 AMC)
at Columbia College (27-3, 14-2)
What: American Midwest Conference Tournament quarterfinal
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Arena of Southwell Complex
Oswald’s childhood dream became a reality in the fall of 2005 when she came to MU to play basketball and work on a psychology degree. But that season, Oswald played just 14 minutes in four Tigers games, scoring only three points.
Because of her passion for the Tigers, it was difficult to leave, but Oswald eventually decided to transfer to a school where more playing time was available. Later in 2006, Columbia College coach Mike Davis approached Oswald about playing for the Cougars.
“Coach talked to me and to my parents and decided, ‘why don’t you come on in and get a feel for basketball again, get your confidence up, and you can start playing for me the following year,’” Oswald said.
Oswald left MU in 2006 and began her basketball career at Columbia College in the fall of 2007.
Coming into the season after a year of not playing, Oswald wasn’t intimidated. Her teammates and friends Whitney Widaman and Whitney Davis were also playing for the Cougars.
“We grew up together playing basketball in the fall and summer,” Oswald said. “We grew up as friends, not just teammates.”
In her first season at Columbia College, Oswald scored 492 points, averaging 15 per game. Oswald attributes her success to her teammates at Columbia College.
“I played for him (Mike Davis) before, I played with both Whitneys before, I’ve known them since eighth grade.”
Davis coached the close-knit group as high-school players on an Amateur Athletic Union team.
“We know each other and therefore we have the chemistry," Oswald said. "Sometimes I don’t even have to read what they are doing, I just know what is going to happen.”
In her two years at Columbia College, Oswald has been named American Midwest Conference player of the week three times and was honorable mention All American at the end of last season. Oswald has started in all 30 games of her junior season, scoring 479 points. Entering the postseason, Oswald has the potential to score 1,000 points in just two seasons.
“I’m excited because, academically, I still have another year to play,” Oswald said.
Oswald and the Cougars earned a share of the AMC title after finishing league play with a 14-2 record. They share the title with William Woods which also finished 14-2. Because of tiebreaker rules, Columbia will be the No.2 seed in this week’s AMC tournament. The Cougars host Illinois-Springfield at 7 p.m. Wednesday in The Arena of Southwell Complex.