A Look Inside an Unforgettable Season

Anchorwomen Basketball team

The Anchorwomen had a historic season, with a 25-game winning streak during the regular season.

The 2023-24 Anchorwomen squad has shot balls into hoops from every inch of the court. On several occasions, the team has outscored opponents by as many as 50 points during its 25-game regular season.

Coaches and team members say none of their success is by chance. They attribute it to a balanced mix of hard work, team chemistry and a results-driven head coach.

Coach Jennifer Cosgrove on the basketball court
Coach Jenna Cosgrove

“I could not be prouder of this group,” says Head Coach Jenna Cosgrove, who has been at the helm for seven years. “This is the most special team I’ve ever coached when it comes to talent, character and depth. These are kids I wish I could coach forever.”

With the regular season behind them, the Anchorwomens’ next challenge is to win the Little East Tournament game at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22, at RIC’s Murray Center. Then, shortly after, their quest to become NCAA Division III champions begins.

A modest Cosgrove often tries to downplay her role in the team’s success but there’s no denying that she’s the mastermind behind it all.

“The culture of this team starts at the top and filters down,” says Assistant Coach Claudia DeFaria, who has worked with Cosgrove for five years. “Everyone has bought into the culture that Jenna has created. She’s open and honest and allows players to come in and make decisions on their own, and the players appreciate that.”

Derek Shanks, another assistant coach, agrees. “She’s created a climate where players can see they have potential. She’s also the kind of person who acknowledges if something is hurting the culture of the team, then it must go.”

Cosgrove admits that she is detail-oriented and places emphasis on putting forth maximum effort. As a former assistant coach at Fordham University in New York City, she says she adopted the strategies of a coach there who was known as one of the top defensive-minded coaches in the nation. While the RIC team can score buckets in droves, Cosgrove is a stickler for defense.

“My mentality is that defense can win championships, but it requires work,” she says. “I grew up as a blue-collar, hard-working kid who wasn’t the most talented or skilled, but I wasn’t going to be outworked.”


Women's basketball team on the court

Cosgrove also goes the extra mile for her players. Jeniyah Jones, a fifth-year guard on the team, was injured in her freshman year and couldn’t play. Jones says, “Coach Cosgrove was there for me, and even drove me to all my physical therapy sessions.”

Neleesha Meunier, the team’s center, believes the team’s unity is their strength. “We’re able to communicate with each other and take criticism properly instead of being insulted. And we hang out even if we’re not practicing and talk to each other all the time.”

Sophia Guerrier, regarded as one of the team’s top scorers and among its most experienced players, says the Anchorwomens’ ascent has been building for years.

“We had to go through some kinks to get to where we are now,” she says. “But to be where we are today is very gratifying and a testament to the dedication that many players have put into this program over the years.”

A graduate justice studies major who has been accepted to law school at both Fordham University and Boston University, Guerrier says she strives to lead by example.

“I’m working to ingrain in the younger players the RIC mentality of being respectful, committed and being there for each other as teammates,” she says.

Maggie McKitchen, a sports medicine and exercise science major, says it’s the experience of players like Guerrier that has helped her adjust to their fast-paced season.

“I’m happy that the veteran players have taken me under their wing,” she says.

Inside the team’s locker room, the mood is often loose, and a spontaneous dance party isn’t out of the question, McKitchen says.

“We keep a speaker around to play music and have karaoke sessions to hype ourselves up before games,” she says.

But when it’s time to get serious about basketball, the players are laser-focused.

RIC Athletic Director Don Tencher says the team’s success has energized the campus.

“It’s unbelievable that the team was in the Final Four last year, undefeated this year and ranked as one of the top three women’s basketball teams nationally in Division III. Jenna is a great coach and an outstanding recruiter. The players know that she would run through a wall for them and fight for them. She’s a task master but always concerned with the total person. I’m convinced that the qualities these kids have learned on the court mirrors what they will do in life.”