On Nov. 6, the Notre Dame women’s basketball team held their season-opener overseas in Paris for the Oui Play Classic. The team suffered a 100-71 loss against the now-ranked No.1 South Carolina.
This match was the first men's or women’s collegiate in-season basketball game that had ever been played in Paris. The game also featured two Black female head coaches, Notre Dame’s Niele Ivey and South Carolina’s Dawn Staley.
Despite the loss, senior forward Nat Marshall remarked that the girls are using this game as a learning experience and it will “make [them] a better team in the long run.”
“I anticipate the season to go really well,” Marshall said. “I have a lot of confidence in myself and my teammates, and we are building our chemistry little by little every day. As a team, I want us to be really bought in defensively, and I think we have been. I want other teams to see how much pride we take in our defense.”
A good team is nothing without a family-like feel and a coach you can connect with, and the women’s team has seemed to foster just that. From playing at Notre Dame herself from 1996-2001 to becoming the Karen & Kevin Keyes Family Head Coach in 2020, Niele Ivey has been with the Notre Dame women’s basketball program for over 20 years.
“[Niele Ivey] really preaches love, trust and accountability,” Marshall said. “Those are some of our program's pillars, and it really lays the foundation for everything that we do.”
Beyond focusing on basketball and team development, the Fighting Irish were also able to explore Parisian history and culture while abroad. “There were a lot of events planned for us,” Marshall said. “We experienced the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and a dinner cruise on the Seine River together as a team. We also had free time so we were able to explore the city on our own with our families which was really nice. They wanted us to enjoy Paris and have fun, but we were there on a business trip first and foremost.”
According to Marshall, “There was a Notre Dame group of over 50 women that traveled to Paris to support [the team].” Perhaps part of the allure to the domestic Fighting Irish fans was seeing Notre Dame’s European namesake, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris.
Heading into the rest of their season, Marshall shared her aspirations for the year at large: “Personally, I want to finish my senior season by being known as the teammate that everyone can count on to make the right plays and get everyone involved. I want to bring a lot of energy when I'm in the game, and I want to make everyone around me better.”