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First Student-Athlete Opts Out of 2020-2021 Basketball Season

First Student-Athlete Opts Out of 2020-2021 Basketball Season
FGCU Women's Basketball Has First Player Opt-Out; EN Photo by Julia Bonavita

By Katie Loudermilk

Staff Writer

For the first time this year, one student-athlete has opted out of the 2020-21 season for safety reasons from the pandemic.

Kierstie Phills has played for the FGCU women’s basketball team for the past three seasons but decided this year will be different.

“I decided to opt out of the 2020-21 season due to the uncertainties brought by COVID-19 and how it would affect me personally,” Phills said in a statement. “I also did not want to be placed in a position where my family’s health and well-being could potentially be at risk.

“Ultimately, this was the best decision for me, and I am grateful to the coaching staff and my teammates for their understanding,” Phills added. 

With 2020 being led by uncertainty, Coach Karl Smesko, the FGCU Women’s Basketball coach, prepared for the changes to come.

“Even before Kerstie’s decision, we were looking at replacing several very talented players, some of the best in program history,” said Coach Smesko. “So, it’s certainly going to be a challenge, but we’re working very hard with our newcomers to get them adapted to our system and style while our returners will look to play increased roles this year.”

Phills played in 60 games and averaged 6.4 points over the last two seasons. She started 26 of 29 games in 2019-20. There were hopes of a great season from Phills this season.

Phills’ tough decision was given support from her teammates and coaches with these times out of our control.

“We understand and support Kerstie’s decision. We thought this would be a breakout season for her, an all-conference type season, but we support Kerstie and appreciate all of her efforts the past three seasons,” said Coach Smesko. 

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