Philomena Lammers makes her shot. Photo by Lyric Allen.
By Elisha Meyer
When it comes to success on the basketball court, senior Philomena Lammers has had more than her share in her career at Concordia University Nebraska.
Lammers said that the decision to come to Concordia was an easy one, thanks to her first and lasting impression of Coach Drew Olson.
“There was a lot of recruitment done here by Coach Olson and the rest of his staff,” Lammers said. “How much I knew he wanted me here was a big draw. Wanting to feel wanted. A lot of people look for that, but also the community, when I came for my visit on campus. That really sold the deal.”
According to Lammers, her decision proved to be the right one. Since her Concordia career began in 2016, the Bulldogs have become a powerhouse in both the Great Plains Athletic Conference and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Each of the past three seasons has resulted in a 30+ win campaign and at least a share of the GPAC regular season championship. Postseason play provided similar success with three consecutive GPAC championships and NAIA final four appearances. The Bulldogs have also appeared twice in the championship game during that time. Concordia finally capitalized in the 2018-2019 season, winning its first national championship in program history.
Lammers has had plenty of individual success on the court as well. She currently holds the third-highest career rebound mark, and more impressively, the second highest career scoring mark. While the rebounds record appears to be out of reach, she stands within 200 points of the record of 2,054 career points, set by 2014-2015 NAIA Player of the Year Bailey Morris.
“I think there’s a little bit of pressure there any time you get close to breaking records,” Lammers said. “People get a little bit of an expectation, and they want you to succeed, and I love that and I love the opportunity to do great things, but at the same time, just trying to keep the focus on how can you get better every day and how can you help the team be the best that the team’s supposed to be.”
Lammers said that she has always had a great relationship with the rest of the team. She credits her teammates, not herself, for Concordia’s success over the past few years. She said that it is never just an individual effort, but that every player has the entire team behind them.
“The team is more of a family than you’ll ever understand from the outside,” Lammers said. “So, we will do anything for each other. I don’t think there’s anybody on the team that I wouldn’t do anything they asked me and vice versa. That’s quite rare to find in college basketball or any kind of college sports. I think, as far as I’ve talked to people and been around, I think it’s something that we value highly at Concordia and that’s a reflection on Coach Olson and all the other coaching staff that we have here and the community that we create and the values that we hold.”
Lammers has a special relationship with teammate senior Grace Barry, who she played with on the same club team during senior year of high school. Even before they were teammates, the two met on the floor of Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln to play against each other in their senior year for the state championship. Lammers said that their relationship is fantastic, and that Barry’s transfer from Kearney was very exciting.
“Her coming back was anything I could have hoped for and more,” Lammers said. “I think we’ve become closer as friends. We’ve been better basketball players because of each other, and I know she continues to push me in every way and make me a better player.”
The Bulldogs are coming up on their final few weeks of regular season action before the postseason begins Feb 26. Lammers, so close now to the end of her career, said that she has not really thought about it, but also admitted she was in denial of this season being her last. She said that while it was emotional, there was still plenty of work to be done in the here and now.
“I think I’m just trying to put forth every effort that I can in the time I have left and I don’t want to leave and have regrets for something that I didn’t do or didn’t try to do,” Lammers said.