The LSU women's basketball team on Sunday honored "hometown heroes" including policemen, firemen, first responders and other servicemen who risk their lives to protect others.
The team has a special connection with the Louisiana Police Department after spending the summer participating in "Fourth Quarter Fridays."
"I think the one thing is that their job very much about being selfless and putting other people in front of their own lives," said LSU coach Nikki Fargas. "To have our hometown heroes step up in such a big-time way, this is just a small way for us to say thank you for keeping us safe and healthy."
LSU strength coach Chris White came up with "Fourth Quarter Fridays" in the summer of 2017, Fargas explained. The team would go to LSU's Football Operations building on Fridays, where they would do basic strength workouts like flipping tires to pulling sleds and simple sprints.
Fourth Quarter Fridays included some of the toughest workouts LSU sophomore guard Khayla Pointer had ever experienced.
"They really got after us," Pointer said. "I really felt like I was in boot camp. They were in our face, yelling at us. They got after us, but I think that made us better, so I'm excited for that to transfer over this year."
In 2018, White and Fargas reached out to the Louisiana Police Department to spice it up a little. Every Friday, the team would take a van to the police department facility for a new and improved Fourth Quarter Fridays.
Fourth Quarter Fridays were created to help the team with their mental toughness when playing a hard Southeastern Conference schedule and getting tired late in the game, Pointer explained.
"[Fourth Quarter Fridays] is going to make a huge difference for us as we go into the fourth quarters. We're going to remember what we were doing on Fridays, at 2:30 p.m., in the summer, in the heat," Fargas said. "For those guys to just step up and make sure that our young ladies are not only ready to compete on the basketball court but their messaging was helping them win in the game of life."
Pointer said that the obstacle course was the hardest part of those Fridays for her. While completing it in under five minutes seemed easy enough, the players were wearing weighted pants that made it tougher to complete in a timely fashion.
"[Fourth Quarter Fridays] were rough," said sophomore guard Jailin Cherry. "It was like real military training. They had up in pool workouts, that was crazy. The obstacle course was really, really tough. We had to get it in under five minutes. It was really challenging, but I'm glad I did that."
A big point that Fargas made to her team about these hometown heroes is the selflessness that the emergency responders have and how to translate that on the court.
"Selfless acts come in different columns, whether its as assist leader who's really trying to give up the basketball and allow somebody else to score," Fargas said. "Those who love to take charges, when you rotate over and you sacrifice your body to keep the opponent from scoring. Those are selfless acts and even anytime you're setting a great screen. It's those little things that make such a big difference."
"I loved that everything that they had to do was in cadence, it was rhythmic, it was together and everybody had to be accountable for themselves and the person next to them as well," Fargas said.