The Wisconsin GLO – the first professional women's basketball team in Oshkosh and the only professional women's basketball organization in the state of Wisconsin – tipped off its season this past weekend at Oshkosh's Menominee Nation Arena and the back-to-back games were filled with UW-Oshkosh connections.
Alumnae Eliza Campbell and Taylor Schmidt, who finished their four-year careers with the Titans in 2018 and 2017, respectively, suited up for the GLO, while Shelley Dietz a member of UW-Oshkosh's 1996 national championship team, was one of three referees assigned to the GLO's opening game against the Flint Monarchs.
Campbell and Schmidt each earned a spot on the GLO roster for the opening weekend after participating in open tryouts in April.
"I never thought I'd play professional basketball," said Campbell. "I went into the open tryout with the mindset that I had nothing to lose and because of that I was able to go into it confident and I did pretty well."
Campbell saw action in the fourth quarter of Friday's (May 3) 88-58 victory. She recorded a pretty impressive assist, which was a highlight for former and current teammate Schmidt.
"One of my favorite moments from the weekend was watching my teammate Eliza make her debut with a sweet assist," said Schmidt.
This weekend was a long time coming for Schmidt. "To play professional is a dream come true," she said. "Growing up, I always wanted to be a professional player and it came true Saturday."
Schmidt, now an inside sales specialist at KI Furniture and an assistant girls' varsity basketball coach at Pulaski High School, credits her time at UW-Oshkosh in preparing her for the GLO.
"UW-Oshkosh gave me the fighting mentality," Schmidt said. "During my four years at UW-Oshkosh, we were very successful. Anytime I stepped on the floor I was confident we were going to win. When I stepped on the floor for the GLO tryouts, I went back to what made the teams I played with at UW-Oshkosh successful – be tough, take care of the ball and defend."
Dietz has been a Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Association (WIAA) referee since 2001, and she made it to the college level in 2005. She was asked in late April if she'd be interested in refereeing the women's professional league in Oshkosh and just found out on May 1 that she was assigned two GLO games, including the first game of the season.
"It's fun to say I was part of the refereeing crew to work the first professional women's basketball game in Oshkosh," said Dietz.
Not having worked a professional basketball season, Dietz and the other officials weren't exactly sure what to expect.
"We try to approach each game we officiate the same, as if it was a championship level game," Dietz said. "Obviously these are incredible athletes who've played basketball in college and overseas, so we assumed a high caliber level of play. It took us a quarter to get a feel for the speed and physicality of the game. Once we did, I think it went well."
Like Schmidt, Dietz enjoyed the fast-paced and athletic game, but specifically was excited for the assist made by Campbell.
"I officiated Eliza in high school, watched her play at UW-Oshkosh and I know the family well, so It was cool to see her make a pretty spectacular play," Dietz said.
The local connections made officiating at her first professional game even more significant.
"I know players from the current team and several other UW-Oshkosh women's basketball alumni were at the game. For me, it's rewarding to officiate in front of familiar faces," Dietz said. "Hopefully, our involvement in the game helped increase not only the university attendance, but community attendance as well, even if only a little.
Written by Liz Smith, UW-Oshkosh University Marketing & Communications