Iris Feddema has known for several years what she wanted her future to be.
Since she was a youngster the 17-year-old from Rocky Mountain House planned on making nursing her career.
What she didn’t know was that it would include the RDC Queens basketball team.
“I always knew I would come into Red Deer and take nursing,” said the Grade 12 West Central student. “I really liked basketball so a couple years ago I decided to see if I could continue playing at the college rather than letting it go.”
She was in contact with Queens head coach Mandy Botham, sending her a couple videos from her Grade 11 season.
“I signed up online and we emailed back and forth and she said she was interested and asked for the videos,” Iris explained.
“I heard about her when I first came to Red Deer (in 2019), but never got an opportunity to watch her my first year because it was so hectic. Then of course the pandemic ruined last year,” said Botham. “So the film really helped.”
The six-foot-four Feddema impressed Botham in more ways than one.
“Her size of course, but what really impressed me was how physical she played. You find a lot of times, younger taller female athletes shy away from the physical contact because they are bigger. I saw she wasn’t afraid to box out or go hard after a rebound. To have that confidence already is exciting. That’s a huge part of adjusting to our level and she already has it.”
Iris says she doesn’t mind the physical play.
“I’ve always played inside, either high or low post and enjoy that,” she said. “Now I’m excited about coming in and improving my skills.”
Iris does what she can to improve including watching the NCAA championships.
“I like to watch players like myself and see what moves they do,” she explained.
Iris was born in Holland, moving to Rocky when she was two. She got involved in basketball in Grade 5 and started to take it seriously in Grade 9. She also played volleyball and swam competitively for the Rocky Barracudas.
Swimming plays a large part in her life as she works as a lifeguard and a swim instructor, something she hopes to continue to do once she moves to Red Deer.
Iris comes from an athletic family. Her brother Stan “is taller than I am” and plays basketball and is in Grade 10 while her sister Rose is five-foot-11 in Grade 8 and plays basketball and volleyball.
Like most players coming into college, she hasn’t played a game for over a year. She did get to practice from late January until last week.
‘That helped a bit,” she said. “Also if it works out Mandy hopes to be able to practice some over the summer and I hope that helps.”
Botham indicated she has a number of her returning players and recruits in the area and has booked gym time for the summer.
“We’re hoping it opens up so we can practice and scrimmage,” she said.
Botham has 10 of her 11 veterans returning, including two imports — outstanding point guard Sandra Garcia-Bernal and Danish guard-forward Sophie Melin. Small forward Meja Lundberg of Denmark, who was recruited prior to last season, rounds out the import list.
“It’s nice to have (your imports) so you’re not recruiting during the pandemic and to have three internationals, who will step in and contribute,” said Botham, who is close to having a full roster.
“I wouldn’t mind adding two more forwards if they’re the right fit,” she said. “If not we have the numbers we need for next season.”
The only loss was Keanna Richards, who needed to move to continue her academics.
Botham also added five-foot-eight guard Mira Witt of Saskatoon, who transferred in after two years at UBC Okanagan and guard Jordan Harris out of Prince George.
“Prince George is my hometown and I’ve watched Jordan for the past four years and she has a huge ceiling,” said Botham. “I expect big things from her.”
The Queens are looking forward to hosting the ACAC playoffs once the season goes ahead.
“That’s been a nice recruiting tool along with the fact we have such a phenomenal facility,” Mandy said. “Now I just hope we get back playing and get fans back in the building. I could see a big crowd for the playoffs.”
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org