When Brooke Kirkpatrick arrived at RDC she wasn’t sure what role she would play with the Queens basketball team.
In fact it was thought she may red shirt the first season.
“When I signed, Ken (head coach King) didn’t tell me what role I would play,” she said.
King indicated he thought she would red shirt, but that changed quickly once he watched her play.
“We went into the preseason in September and she fit in perfectly,” said King. “She responded well to the team and the environment … is coachable and has a great work ethic and attitude. She came along a lot faster than we expected and we’re thankfully for that.”
Kirkpatrick saw playing time in the preseason, but it was the first league game against St. Mary’s that caught the attention of everyone involved with the team. She played 13 minutes, scored eight points while hitting three of four shots.
“She showed right off the bat she would be a strong contributor to the team and will be in the future,” added King.
The Queens were fortunate that RDC is one of the top schools for nursing in the province. The Sherwood Park native, who attended Archbishop Jordan, planned on getting into nursing and RDC was one of her choices.
“I wanted to play basketball as well and my coach contacted Ken and he gave me a call,” explained the 18-year-old guard. “I was lucky that I also got into the nursing program three weeks before school started. So it all worked out.”
Like any rookie Kirkpatrick found a significant difference between high school and college.
“Defensively it was way different and more demanding,” she said. “But once I got a chance to play I settled in.”
She also had to adjust to be able to combine schooling and basketball.
“For sure it was different than high school. I have to concentrate on schooling, plus basketball six days a week, but it’s a matter of time management. I also think playing basketball enables me to take my mind off schooling for a bit … it’s a bit of stress relief.”
The five-foot-eight Kirkpatrick played some forward in high school, but mainly on the wing or at shooting guard. She’s been mainly on the wing with the Queens. Her strength has been her ability to drive and score inside.
“Ken has been on me to shoot more when I get a chance, but I usually drive … he makes me shoot more in practice,” she said with a laugh.
“She has a good shot and it will open her game up even more when she uses it,” said King, who also likes the defensive side of her game.
“She is a strong defender and a strong rebounder,” he said.
“I found the defensive side a lot harder than in high school and a lot more demanding,” she said, “In high school you don’t necessarily go 100 per cent on defence but Ken wants that 100 per cent commitment.”
Kirkpatrick grew up in Sherwood Park, playing basketball, volleyball and hockey. She played bantam AAA until Grade 10 when she had to make a decision and choose basketball.
“Once I got into high school I didn’t have time for both basketball and hockey,” she said. “And it’s worked out for the best.”
Once she arrived at RDC Kirkpatrick received support from the coaches and players, none more than from guard Maya Parker.
“She’s been a great mentor,” Kirkpatrick said. “I didn’t know anything when I arrived here and she’s helped a lot. Plus we’re in nursing together.”
Kirkpatrick has played in all 17 league games and started eight. She’s averaging 4.9 p[oints per game and close to 20 minutes the last 12 games. She hit double figures in points three times. Her best performance was 15 points, while hitting seven of eight shots, in 28 minutes of action, Nov 25 against Ambrose.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at email@example.com. His work can also be seen at Danny’s blog at rdcathletics.ca