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Katey Richason stepped up as a leader this season for the RedHawks

Richason's (far left) absence on the court was felt, but her presence on the sidelines further pushed the players.
Richason's (far left) absence on the court was felt, but her presence on the sidelines further pushed the players.

The Miami University RedHawks women’s basketball team ended their season at 10th in the Mid-American Conference (MAC). The team gave much hope for Miami fans moving forward with one year under the new coaching staff’s belt. 

With a new coach and a roster consisting of only five returning players, the team needed to prepare extensively last summer and rely on their older players for the 2023-24 season. One returning player in particular, junior forward Katey Richason, stepped into a leadership role for the program to help them succeed.

Richason grew up in Zionsville, Indiana, with an older sister who also played basketball. Given the familial connection, as well as her height, basketball was a no-brainer for her.

At Zionsville High School, Richason played varsity basketball as a first-year and helped the team win the IHSAA 4A tournament in 2017 and 2018 . She put up 1,133 points, 611 rebounds and 227 assists in her high school career. 

When choosing a college, Richason wanted a school with a strong speech pathology program that would lead a successful career after graduation. Miami’s speech pathology program was the main attraction when she decided to become a RedHawk.

“I always knew I wanted to study speech pathology,” Richason said. “[Miami has] a very good program. Also, the fact that it’s far enough away from home, but still driving distance so my parents can come to all the games. The MAC is very underrated in my opinion. It’s a very good conference.”

In her first year at Miami, Richason contributed 59 points, averaging 2.2 per game. The team finished 8-21 (4-16 in the MAC) in its penultimate season with head coach DeUnna Hendrix. 

Richason’s numbers increased significantly in her sophomore year. She contributed 110 points, averaging 3.9 per game, as well as 85 rebounds and 28 turnovers on the season. Despite her increased performance, the team finished 12-19 (7-11 in the MAC), and the season was capped with Hendrix stepping down as head coach.

With the controversy surrounding Hendrix’s exit, the future of the team was blurry. New head coach Glenn Box stepped into the new position, but only five players from the 2022 roster returned for another year. Richason was one of the five.

“I was actually one of the few that got to meet [Box] before the rest of the team,” Richason said. “My roommate, Claire [Chambers], and I got to meet him first. He kind of just laid down [his expectations]. We left for summer and came back and we went straight to work.”

Box recruited extensively in the transfer portal, bringing in four players, including senior guard Hennessey Luu-Brown from Salt Lake Community College. He also recruited five first-years, including forward Amber Tretter. 

With the number of first-year and transfer players, Richason needed to step into a leadership role for those that hadn’t previously played at Miami. One way she did this was by building relationships with everyone before the season started.

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“She was talking to me before I even came here,” Tretter said. “As soon as I got here, she was there, helping me out, making sure I was all situated, [asking] if I needed anything. She’s been able to step up in practices and get our team together and make sure everyone’s always on the same page.”

In the beginning of the season, Richason continued to improve on her prior stats. Through the first 13 games, she put up 99 points and 12 assists. 

On Jan. 20, however, Richason twisted her ankle against the Bowling Green State University Falcons. 

“It ended up I tore two ligaments, [and] I sprained five,” Richason said. “But I have very tough ankles. They go through a lot. I do so much treatment and therapy with it, but it was just a wrong place, wrong time type of thing.”

Richason missed eight games from late January into February. During that time, her absence on the court was felt, but her presence on the sidelines further pushed the players.

“She played a great role on the sideline, just cheering us on, letting me know if I need to be doing something different,” Tretter said. “But it was definitely different trying to adjust without playing with her.”

In her recovery, Richason was helped by her teammates and assistant coach Ben Wierzba. She showed up to practices early and left late to get back to 100%, but the main thing for her recovery was in her head.

“It was more mental reps for her,” Wierzba said. “She was doing all the things she could on the bike and with conditioning, but she was also being that leader in the locker room and on the bench. She put the work in, and I knew she could come back and she could do it.”

Richason made her return on Feb. 24, against the Eastern Michigan University Eagles. She had just gotten out of a boot and had four days to start conditioning. 

The work paid off. Richason led the team with 14 points and emerged with a 48-37 victory. 

“I honestly wasn’t really expecting how she came back,” Tretter said. “I wasn’t expecting her to have that great of a game. But when she came back, I [was] like, ‘she’s back.’ She was ready for it.”

Richason ended the season with 157 points, her most in a season so far, as well as 102 rebounds and 27 turnovers. 

Despite missing the MAC tournament, the RedHawks put on a great season as they adjusted to the new coaching staff and young roster. Going forward, Richason said that the team will be on a new level. 

“I think we’re gonna be a fast-paced team next year,” Richason said. “I think everything is going to look totally different. One year under your belt, a lot of things change. I think we’re getting acclimated with the MAC, and I think we’ll be a totally different team.”