Rachel Banham inspires next generation of hoopers with podcast

The former Gopher directs care-free conversations with players, coaches and fans to personalize and grow the game of women’s basketball.

Banham+started+her+work+in+media+last+season+broadcasting+a+contest+between+Rutgers+and+the+Gophers.+Photo+courtesy+of+Gopher+Athletics.+

Banham started her work in media last season broadcasting a contest between Rutgers and the Gophers. Photo courtesy of Gopher Athletics.

by Theo Franz

Over the years, Minnesota has become known for its budding basketball culture and its charismatic players. Iconic teams such as the 2003-04 Golden Gophers and the Minnesota Lynx throughout the 2010s started the state’s cultural roots of inspiration and success that helped the future generation of female athletes blossom.

As a Minneapolis native and coach for the Gophers, Rachel Banham is in a unique position to directly cultivate the next generation.

The WNBA player’s talent on the court cemented her role model status for hoopers. Now, she is expanding her influence into the world of media.

She is the host of “Gold Blooded,” Minnesota women’s basketball’s newest podcast. It highlights notable members of the team throughout their season, twice a week. Topics span from typical basketball talk to odd superstitions, all of which showcase the personalities that make the sport so special.

“You’re able to see these women off the court and who they are as humans,” Banham said. “And when young girls watch and listen to it, they get to hear that this could be them. They get to hear themselves in these women that are here playing hoops.”

Professional players, current or former, participating in media is a popular movement across all media. Hearing the voices of those who have been on the court provides listeners with different and more interactive perspectives.

Banham began her media journey last season. She was brought on by the Big Ten Network to broadcast a contest between Rutgers and the Gophers. Not only did this prepare her for the podcasting gig, but it’s a big reason why she was selected to be the host, according to Minnesota’s sports information director Trenten Gauthier.

“Trenten had called me and mentioned that he wanted me to be the host,” Banham said. “The plan was to interview the girls, coaches, whoever. And he said, ‘How do you feel about that? Are you comfortable?’ And I was like, ‘absolutely! It’ll be hilarious.’”

Compared to the players sitting at a table in a press conference room, Gauthier explained the podcast “gives [them] more of a platform and a new way to talk about things” that occur on and off the court.

“I already love this team so much, and I feel like I’ve gotten to know them in such a short time,” Banham said. “But this is an even better way to get to know everybody.”

Banham had appeared in Minnesota’s practices in prior years to meet the athletes. With this season’s heavy roster turnover, she’s using the podcast as a new outlet to learn about the current talent.

Personal conversations that can get a little weird

Since she’s a coach first, the show starts on the topic of team performance and ways to improve. But when she asks questions that are not related to basketball, it opens the floor up for her guests to be as weird as possible.

“You can really feel our personalities more because we’re so comfortable talking with each other,” Katie Borowicz said.

They mutually accept each other’s weirdness, but sometimes, it goes too far. The look of horror on Maggie Czinano and Banham’s faces when Borowicz tries to explain her pregame superstition made for a laughable moment, but it also encapsulated what the podcast is all about.

“It’s important to have Rachel talk to us as [herself and] having somebody who we all have idolized be able to get involved,” said Czinano.

The conversation with the young set of players was fun and filled with nuggets of basketball tips or personality quirks. Banham said she wishes when people listen to the podcast, they realize how amazing it is to be a part of women’s basketball, especially in Minneapolis.

“You’re not really able to get that personal experience all the time just coming to our game. So I hope the fans can see how much we appreciate them and that we want them to get to know us better,” Banham said. “Having more visibility, more information, like this helps grow the game.”

You can watch and listen to the latest “Gold Blooded” episode on the Minnesota women’s basketball page. The first-ever episode, featuring Borowicz and Czinano, can be found on the website and YouTube.