Esmeralda Morales (75) goes for a three. Scott Larson

PSU Women’s Basketball Team prepares for 2023–2024 season

Team signs on three new athletes, trains for a season trophy

It is safe to say that when you are an athlete, you have a relentless desire to be the winner, especially when you’ve had enough success to be within arm’s reach of a trophy. Unfortunately, it’s also true that when there’s a winner, there always has to be one that loses. The 2022–2023 Portland State Vikings women’s basketball team came close to earning their trophy last season, but came up short after taking a loss from Sacramento in the Big Sky Conference semifinals. As the Vikings prepare for the coming 2023–2024 season, Coach Chelsey Gregg is prepared to build off of the experience of last season’s playoff run as the team makes another bid for the season trophy.


This year Coach Gregg is heading into her ninth season as coach of the women’s basketball program here at PSU, with the upcoming season marking her third year as head coach, after initially earning the position in early 2021. In addition to seeing her on the sidelines, you’ll find the assistant coaches, Ashley Bolston and Megan Kritscher, and Associate Head Coach Keithan Gregg. Following a losing season in 2021–2022, the coaches used a combination of dedication and carefully chosen reading assignments to produce the biggest year-to-year turnaround in the history of the Vikings women’s basketball club. The team also showed up to the task by working to finish strong at the end of games, which is what seemed to plague them in the season prior. The season’s turnaround in 2022–2023 was a testament to the fact that in the world of sports, sometimes it’s better to play with a chip on your shoulder.


On the wall of Coach Gregg’s office—located in the Peter Scott Center at the southwest end of the PSU campus—are four Viking-green canvases on the back wall that read the team’s mantra in stark white lettering: “relational, reliable, resilient, ready.” This is a saying she not only urges the women’s basketball team to strive for on the court, but off the court as well. Out of the four words that comprise the team’s mantra, the best one to describe the 2022–2023 season for the women’s basketball team would be “resilient.”


One of the ways this group of athletes showed they understood what it means to be resilient was growing stronger through all the chaos that was thrown at them during COVID-19 lockdowns during the 2021–2022 season.


“I’m really proud of the resiliency that we had shown throughout the year to finish the way we did, strong… it was encouraging to see our [team] culture growing,” Coach Gregg said, despite having a losing record. Attributing it to hard times, the coach said she saw her team bond and help each other through. After learning how to navigate what it is like to have resilience on your side, it feels as though Coach Gregg believes her team is “capital R Ready” to take on the new season with a mix of familiar faces that are still around from the 2021–2022 season, but also six roster spots that need to be filled to complete the roster due to players graduating.

Post win celebration tunnel, Alaya Fitzgerald. Mark Boling

The thing about having to endure through failure is that it typically shows the areas where you need the most improvement, in addition to what was working well during the games. After the season’s wrap-up, Coach Gregg said that her, the coaching staff and the athletes make a point to have an all-hands-on-deck team meeting to discuss the future.


“[We talk about what] we feel like went well, where do we want to continue to improve, expectations of the coaching staff and players to hear how they felt it went and where they want to grow,” Gregg said.


Out of the six spots in the roster that need to be filled this offseason, three young, talented athletes have already penned a deal with the Lady Viks and will be joining the team as freshmen.


The newest recruit is Alma Rashelbach, a six-foot guard/forward who will be joining us from Tela Viv, Israel. Next is Ella Kaleta—making the commute down I-5 from Bothell, Washington—who will play as a shooting guard at five feet ten inches. Then there is Laynee Torres-Kahapea, a five-foot-six, sharp-shooting guard from Kaneohe, Hawai’i. Coach Gregg said in the recruitment phase of the offseasons that they are looking for ways to “continue to get better by supporting the team we have,” by using a more homegrown approach to growing and expanding the team.


“We have to rely on each other to get better,” Coach Gregg said about getting spring practice going.


In addition to starting spring workouts for the 2023–2024 season, the Vikings are looking forward to a trip to Costa Rica for some friendly competition and practice, which is being put together for them by a company called Beyond Sports. Once they arrive on Sept. 5, they will play in two games in San Juan, Puerto Rico, then spend the rest of their eight-day trip bouncing between providing service opportunities, white water rafting and ziplining. Not only does this give the team a leg up by having more time to practice with the new player pieces of the puzzle, it provides them the chance to bond and get to know each other outside of the fierce, fast-paced game of basketball. The team will be hosting several fundraisers to help cover the cost of the event which PSU community members are free to attend.


Stay tuned for news about the Vikings’ spring 2023 season as it develops, and go Viks!

Lock room celebration. Photo courtesy of Scott Larson