COLUMBIA — The Stephens College women's basketball team doesn't rely solely on its coaches for instruction.
A young team of only nine players with a coach in his first season, the Stars have found teammates sidelined by injuries provide the team with a new kind of teaching.
The Stars lost to Principia College 72-64 Tuesday at Silverthorne Arena. Junior Megan Sheffield led the team with 29 points. Senior Cara Leis led the Stars in assists with five.
The Stars play next against Lindenwood at 7 p.m. Thursday in Belleville, Ill.
Senior Haley Caldwell works as a student assistant for the Stars. She transferred to Stephens two years ago from John Wood Community College in Quincy, Ill., with the intention of playing for the Stars, but on her first day of practice at Stephens she tore the ACL in her left knee for the fourth time. Doctors told her that her playing days were over.
"It sucks just watching. This is my favorite sport and my top priority was basketball, and it kills me to sit and watch it," Caldwell said.
Her role as student assistant isn't limited to business matters, though. Because of her experience as a player, she is able to offer valuable instruction to younger players.
An aspiring basketball coach, Caldwell finds that the experience she has received as an assistant has taught her things she will need for her future.
"Sometimes I put in my two cents, but I like to stand back and listen and learn," she said.
Stars coach Bill Bixon said he appreciates Caldwell's contributions.
"It's fun to get Haley's opinion because she can go in and scrimmage with them and come out and say we're not doing this, this and this. She can get one on one and personal with them," Bixon said.
Caldwell isn't the only member of the Stars who has been able to contribute despite an injury. Senior Andie Young played for the Stars last season and tore the ACL in her left knee during an open gym in September. Since her injury, she has been assisting in practice.
"It's a totally different perspective, and I feel like I've learned a lot more about the game because of it. I'm not happy that I got injured, but I feel like it's going to help in the long run," Young said.
Bixon said Young has a unique role as a player and a coach.
"She does a lot of good things with them individually," he said.
Young is taking a redshirt this season and said she plans on attending graduate school and playing as a graduate student.