Together, they took their lumps.
Together, they got back up.
Today, they stand tall.
Nicole Fu and her seven senior teammates have lost more games than any other class at Concordia (Calif.) University since the first five years of the program’s existence in the mid-1980s.
A streak of five straight, and 15 of 16, winning seasons for the women’s basketball team was snapped in 2006.
A year later, Fu, a 2007 Maryknoll graduate, and seven others entered the program and were tested immediately .
A 10-20 record her first season was followed by a coaching change. By the end of Fu’s sophomore year, the Eagles were 11-31 in conference games over a two-year span and finished out of the top eight that advance to the conference tournament.
PROFILE | Nicole Fu
» School: Concordia (Calif.)
» Class: Senior
» Position: Guard
» Height: 5 feet 4
» High school: Maryknoll (2007)
» Notes: Named All-Golden State Athletic Conference as a junior, averaging a team-high 14.6 points and 2.99 assists per game. … two-time All-Interscholastic League of Honolulu selection and second-team All-State as a senior. … scored a career-high 29 points against Fresno Pacific last February. … career high in high school was 44 points against Sacred Hearts. … majoring in exercise sports science.
Not ones to make excuses, Fu and her classmates continued to take baby steps to get better. The hours spent in the gym increased. The time spent away from the basketball court became less and less.
Now, with her final season halfway done, all that work is starting to pay off.
"It’s going to be difficult because our conference is so competitive, but yeah, for sure," Fu said about this being the best team she’s been on. "I think (eight) of us have been playing together for four years now that our chemistry is so good and we know how everyone plays."
The Eagles were 7-3 heading into last night’s game against Hope International and 2-2 in conference play. They advanced to the first round of the Golden State Athletic Conference tournament last year for the first time in three years and Fu said she and her teammates hope to build on that this year.
"I think we can go further because we’ve all played so much and learned how to stay in games and battle until the end," Fu said. "A lot of us are hungrier for wins because we know we don’t have much time left."
Fu is the catalyst of the group, averaging a team-high 18.3 points through the first 10 games. She’s one of only two Eagles to average more than 30 minutes a game and also leads the team with 6.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.7 steals a game.
By the end of the season, she could become part of a very small group to start 100 games for the Eagles in her career. The former two-time, All-Interscholastic League of Honolulu selection can achieve the same feat in college if she backs up last year’s selection to the all-conference team.
"I think I’ve worked pretty hard to get where I am today," Fu said.
Fu hopes to realize her dream of playing professional ball overseas, but knows the road will be tough. Still, even though she’s only 5 feet 4, Fu has already defied the odds in college, leading a team with six players at least 6-feet tall in rebounding.
"It’s just part of working hard and doing what you can to get better," she said.
The Eagles hope to continue in 2011 the way they ended ’10, winning four straight games in the month of December.
Fu had 26 points in 42 minutes of a two-point overtime win over The Master’s College and closed the year with a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds) in an 81-63 win over conference foe Rocky Mountain College.
Concordia begins a key three-game road trip tomorrow at Fresno Pacific.