New Faces, New Places, New Challenges

New Faces, New Places, New Challenges

And Jeff Speedy has been pawing at the hardwood, itching to begin his 8th season as the head coach of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport's University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds women's basketball team.

It is ready, set, go time for the V-Reds as the 2013-14 season beckons.

When we last left UNB, the squad had struggled through a difficult season, trying to piece together a puzzle that had difficulty finding the correct fits, the right dynamics to compete for an Atlantic University Sport playoff spot. The Varsity Reds actually hosted the AUS championship and played some of their best basketball of the year, knocking off favourite Acadia University Axettes and making some late season noise during that memorable weekend.

Despite Cinderella going home early, that success has fuelled the fire in many, who may have learned winning is not easy.

Especially at the AUS level.

"Last season made for a lot of sleepless nights and second guessing, but our new season is finally here and there are an awful lot of us who have been counting the days," said Speedy. "It has been a long wait since a very tough 2012-13 season came to an end in the AUS semi-final. We have a long way to go to get to the top of the AUS ladder but there is a special feeling with this group. I am excited to see what we will accomplish this season."

Some changes are not just in which players are wearing the uniforms.

Speedy has made some sideline adjustments, too, bringing in one of the nation's top high school coaches and a former star UNB star to join Cory Russell, preparing for his fourth season, on the bench.

Former Fredericton High Black Kats' coach Rick Cotter, who earned dozens of New Brunswick championships and Leah Bowers are new to Speedy's staff.

"I am very excited to add two quality people and coaches to our coaching staff," he said. "They will join Cory to form a staff with an unbelievable amount of knowledge, expertise and passion about the game of basketball. I have learned a great deal from Coach Cotter through our many chats in recent years and cannot wait to learn more. We're all looking forward to working with Leah and seeing her make a difference with our student athletes."

Bowers can't wait to get started.

She's energized and brings passion and dedication to the game.

She'll coach like she played.

All in.

"I couldn't be more thrilled about being on the coaching staff," said Bowers. "I've been wanting to help out for a while and am excited for the opportunity to coach with Jeff and the others."

New coaches, but also six new players including two homegrown talents and one each from Moncton, Ontario, Newfoundland and Australia.

"We have 16 players so there's a lot of depth and a lot of competition for playing spots and playing time," said Speedy. "We're young considering we don't have any fifth year players and only three players in their fourth year, one who will be a redshirt. Awo is going to be an exciting addition for us after she redshirted last year and the other new additions all bring us something we can definitely use."

The Varsity Reds hit the court running this month and start the process of season preparation. A competitive exhibition schedule sees the team play NCCA Division I school University of Maine Black Bears in Orono and the team will also host 2013 CIS silver medalist University of Regina Cougars at UNB's popular Accreon Helen Campbell tournament at the Richard Currie Center.

"We've entered this season with renewed energy and passion to create a winning atmosphere with UNB basketball," Speedy said. "This team understands our goals and all hands have to be on deck. We're ready and the players have responded to that already based on the commitment of off-season workouts."