As we at MAX call attention to all the lesser-known yet amazing things going on in St. Louis, one such hidden gem in the River City sports world is the St. Louis Surge, a professional women’s basketball team that plays at the Washington University Field House during the summer months.

Finishing the regular 2017 season undefeated, averaging 104 points per game, the Surge fell short in a bid for back-to-back basketball titles with a final record of 12-1; however, they took the championship in 2016 and 2014 and were runners-up in 2012 and 2015.

“Knowing that we won in 2016, we came back to get in that mentality in 2017, and when we fell short by one point, everyone started last year’s season ready to get back and win another championship,” says Khalia Collier, owner and general manager of the St. Louis Surge. “You saw that within the mentality of our coaching staff; you saw that in the mental preparation of our players, knowing that their goal was to win a national championship.”

With six new players added to the roster this past season, they quickly built team chemistry and a family bond on and off the court. “Last year, the players learned that they had to play together as a team and a family,” she says. “It was something that you saw consistently — that they were a family on and off the court, which made the determining difference as to why we won another championship.”

The environment at Washington University this season was like none other: loud, fun and full of energetic Surge fans, according to Collier. “Though falling short, it was a really incredible season for us. The continued momentum of the Surge in the St. Louis market is only growing. We are only earning more and more fans as we increase awareness.”

Even in their own lives, their own jobs and their own interests, the ladies understand that being part of the Surge is not just being part of a team — it’s a lifestyle. “Every Surge player is not only a phenomenal athlete, but an amazing person,” Collier explains. “Winning is an expectation for our program, and the resources that we surround our players with prepares them not only as player development, but career development. And that’s something that is a key part of our model — that we recruit character first. When the players are trying out, they know that it’s not just about how many points you can score or how many rebounds; we’re looking for the overall package and cultural fit within our organization.”

By setting such an expectation, the team comes in with a mentality knowing it’s not just what they can do on the court, but whether they also enjoy being in the community, working with kids and are understanding of the magnitude of the impact they can have on the next generation of players and fans.

“We are truly everywhere, and every fan we have, we’ve earned and will continue to do so,” she says. “And we’ve shown that by how many school districts we are in, how many clinics we are doing for kids of all ages and making sure that our presence is known. I do six to eight speaking engagements a month, the coaching staff is incredibly involved, and I’m proud of what our players do. Separate from being a part of the Surge, they are involved and volunteering and doing things that are not mandated to be a part of the program.”

For more information about the 2018 season, visit stlsurgebasketball.comM