Sep 21, 2012
And Jeff Speedy and his University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds women’s basketball team can’t wait to kickstart 2012-13.
It’s not a season of redemption for Speedy and his Canadian Interuniversity Sport squad, but it’s a season of finding their way.
Speedy isn’t ducking the disappointment of last season when UNB struggled at home and on the road, struggled to keep pace with Atlantic University Sport rivals. There were flashes, but not enough.
Consistency was lost, the season slipped away and there’s been months of waiting. The waiting is over and practice has started for this year’s version of the Varsity Reds. If last year was a disappointment, it was also another learning experience in the long and winding road of CIS athletics.
“We’re really trying to focus on the process and the journey of our season and not invest so much in wins and losses,” Speedy said matter-of-factly. “We got caught up in that last year and perhaps lost our way.”
There are major changes in the lineup this year including the departure of familiar veterans Megan Corby, Emma Russell and Jordanne Holstein.
And youth has been served. There are a lot of new faces are on the roster with many straight out of high school. Time to play with the big girls.
“We’re a very young team going into this season and we need to invest our time, energy and focus on ensuring they all improve and come together as a group moving forward,” said Speedy. “We’re looking at building our basement before we put a roof on this team. We have 16 players on our roster and there’s nine new faces including Laura Fowler and Tilly Ettinger who redshirted last year.”
Fowler will indeed be a player to watch. The grinding veteran of the UNB program has had her share of personal injuries with two major knee surgeries over the past few seasons. It’s a long, personal climb back for her, but if she stays healthy, it allows Speedy some room to implement a veteran player, one who has been through the rigours of a CIS season.
Ettinger sat out last season after transferring from the University of Calgary and will play a very significant role immediately.
Sharpshooting Claire Colborne is back as UNB’s offensive catalyst, a dynamic player who every opposing coach will plan defensive systems around to try and neutralize her nose for the basket.
Diminutive yet impactful guard Colleen Daly, a three point specialist, is back for her second year joining fellow veterans Sam Kaminsky, Allie Chalke, Rachel Cleary, Katelynn Carver and the hardworking Melissa Foster, just back from a summer in Africa where she was part of the Right to Play group.
Speedy also has a plethora of untested talent including Red Deer college transfer Karlen Majcher, first year players Chelsey Collette of Rothesay, Halifax’ Laura Fox, Katelyn Mangold out of Peterborough, Ont., Caroline Healy from Bedford, N.S., Nisja Bass out of Los Angeles, Calif., and redshirt Awo Farah from Ottawa.
“I love this recruiting class. We have a little bit of everything … toughness, size, scoring, and athleticism, but it also gives us a great amount of depth. This will certainly help us hold our players accountable to do their jobs.”
They are all joined by familiar coaching staff faces, as Coach Speedy welcomes back Cory Russell, Dan Goggin, Stu Julius and Barb Ramsey to the Program.
“Coaches always say this every year and I know I have in the past, but we have an amazing group of young women who are great people,” Speedy said. “We believe they will play a big part in making something special happen with UNB basketball.”
It’s one thing to have a keen crew, but Speedy knows he needs a game plan. And make no mistake, he has a plan in place.
“Without a doubt we want to defend much, much better and make us a difficult team to play against,” he said. “Up tempo offence and rebounding will be points of emphasis all day, every day. And we need to hold each other accountable to play this way. That is a must … no short cuts. As a coaching staff, we’re excited and optimistic about our potential to do this and thus get better every week.”