If RaeAnne Booth comes off as a little bit obsessed with her work, please forgive her.
The line between life and work was blurred a long time ago for Friends’ women’s basketball coach. Like right around the time she was born.
“I grew up a military brat with my dad in the military and my mom came from a basketball-crazed family in Indiana,” Booth said. “I love the game of basketball, but I love the team aspect much more than the game.
“I love what teams can become and what takes place during a win or a loss.”
Booth turned the Falcons into KCAC regular-season champions last season, going 24-10 and advancing to the round of 16 at the NAIA Division II Tournament. Booth came to Friends in 2010 after four years as an assistant at Brenau (Ga.) University.
“This was just the perfect fit for me, the perfect job,” Booth said. “Exactly what I was looking for.”
Booth’s philosophy is decidedly year-round — practices, games and recruiting during the season and conditioning, weights, pick-up games and team-building activities filling up the offseason.
Even vacations with her family are planned around recruiting events.
“Everything is very structured,” said senior guard Minta Whetstone, a returning starter. “(Booth) puts a lot of work into make sure things are done the right way.
“She doesn’t get upset when you make a mistake, because everybody does that. She doesn’t like when you don’t learn from your mistakes.”
And whatever a player is willing to invest, Booth matches it and then some.
“She comes early and stays late,” junior guard Whitney Bates said. “She’s always there for us.”
Booth wants her players to take ownership of their season early, a process that begins in the recruiting phase. Bates, a Rose Hill product, just went through it after spending two seasons at Pratt Community College.
“(Booth) decides who has the right skill level to play here,” Whetstone said. “And then we decide if they’ll be good teammates.”
Bates is one that fit — she’s already been elected a team captain.
“I felt an immediate bond with the team,” Bates said. “I really felt like I found a place where I belong and it’s good group of people to be around.”
The Falcons’ also return one of the best players in the KCAC in 6-foot forward Abril Marshall, an All-KCAC selection last year.
Marshall averaged 10.8 points and 6.1 rebounds. Junior guard Sarah Munds is Friends’ other returning starter.
“I want them to establish that trust, that camaraderie with each other,” Booth said. “We’ve got a lot of new people on the team but we’ve already come a long way.”