Wherever the Columbia College women’s basketball (3-2) team travels, Joan Fossum can be seen sitting in the stands, wearing a Columbia College sweatshirt and her gaze fixed on the action on the court.
Though Fossum loves to watch her daughter, LeAnn, a junior forward who is leading the Cougars with 13.2 points per game, she is quick to explain that she attends to support the whole team.
“It’s not just her. It’s all of them,” Joan Fossum said. “Watching them progress ... they’re a really neat bunch of girls. They were last year, they are this year.”
LeAnn Fossum said her mother makes a special effort to care for the whole team.
“She has us all out for a meal once a year, and she makes cookies for all our road trips,” she said. “She tries to be there for all those people who are far away from home.”
Joan Fossum is happy to be able to assist the team.
“Team support helps team spirit,” she said. “The team works hard, so they deserve the support.”
Joan Fossum travels from her home in Harrisburg to watch the Cougars play, whether they are in Columbia or on the road.
“We’ve probably only missed three or four games since she was a freshman,” Joan Fossum said.
LeAnnFossum recalled having a bad outing the last time her parents missed a game.
“The one game they didn’t come to last year, I got knocked in the head and had to have stitches,” she said with a laugh.
She said her mother’s support of her basketball career is important to her.
“She’s just always been there for me,” LeAnn Fossum said. “She coached me when I was in elementary school. She’s not too hard on me. She wants me to play and have fun.
Her mother knows it’s important to
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make sure her presence is always a positive thing for LeAnn Fossum, so she doesn’t criticize her daughter’s play.
“That’s the coach’s job,” Joan Fossum said. “Coaches should coach, fans should be fans, and a fan’s job is to encourage them to be better.”
LeAnnFossum said occasionally her mother will offer her helpful pointers, however.
“She gives me constructive criticism,” she said. “She’s learned over the years where to tread lightly. She always tells me what I need to hear at the time.”
Though Joan Fossum enjoys watching her daughter play, she didn’t put pressure on LeAnnFossum to choose Columbia.
“That was all her,” JoanFossum said. “She looked at colleges out of the area and even out of the state, and she chose this.”
LeAnn Fossum hesitated to select the Cougars at first.
“I was kind of leery of staying so close to home, but I think I made the right decision,” she said. “One, they (parents) would be here more to see me play, and two, this is just a good program. Though there was talk of moving wherever I went.”
Though she is grateful for her mother’s support, LeAnn Fossum said she doesn’t always hear when her mother calls out words of encouragement during a game.
“I sometimes hear it, but I’ll be honest, usually I don’t hear what’s coming out of the stands during a game,” she said. “I’ve trained my ear for one voice.”
LeAnnFossum knows that sometimes her mother’s critique can be helpful, too.
“A few weeks ago in Arkansas (playing against Lyon College), one of the assistant coaches came to the locker room and said, ‘Your mom said you’re not using your legs when you shoot,’” she said. “And that was exactly my problem.”