Two international students have made their mark on the Red Deer College basketball Queens lineup, and they are both set to return for a second season.
The Danish flavour on the Queens roster bolstered the lineup. The two Danes had solid rookie seasons with Eva Bonde winning the team’s rookie of the year and an academic excellence award and standout Emily White named the ACAC south division rookie of the year, named to the south division’s second all-star team and named team MVP.
“I put a lot pressure on myself,” Bonde admitted. “When you’re an international student people have higher expectations of you. I have great support from my teammates and (RDC Queens basketball head coach Ken King) especially and that helps take the pressure off. Everyone believes in you and wants you to do great.”
And the two aren’t done playing in Canada. They will be back for sophomore seasons with the Queens basketball team in the fall.
Bonde always wanted to play basketball overseas in the North American college system. She had considered going to the U.S. to pursue this, but King got in touch.
King said he connected to Bonde through a couple of his personal contacts and she came to visit Red Deer in King’s first year coaching the team. King knew it would be a great fit.
“I really like him and what he wanted to do with the program,” said Bonde. “I liked it here, the team was nice. I liked the atmosphere here and decided to come.”
She signed that weekend, February 2015, to play for Red Deer College. But King wasn’t done getting players from Denmark. With the team looking for a forward, King decided to contact all the teams in the Danish elite league. He talked to every coach, one at a time, and asked if there was a player who wanted to play in Canada.
“I got in touch with Emily’s coach and he told me she’d be interested,” said King. “Emily and I talked almost every day for a couple of weeks straight and she decided to sign as well.”
King said White brings an elite level of play to the Queens, while Bonde brings a solid work ethic and the ability to train and compete hard.
Having two Danes on the roster helped the two support each other as the two transitioned to life in Canada.
“When you miss home, it’s nice to have someone who knows home and being able to speak your own language once-in-a-while is nice,” said Bonde. “It does help having Emily around, for sure.”
One of the big reasons Bonde wants to come back is unfinished business. The team finished with a record of nine wins and 12 losses
“I want to come back and show we can do better and go further,” said Bonde.
“We want to make provincials and hopefully nationals. I want to be a part of that development.”
Bonde’s played basketball since she was 12 and wanted more than the club team experience in Europe. There, teams aren’t associated with schools so it’s a different environment with fewer practices.
“Being here, having practices every day with the team, classes every day with the team and being around them so much gives it a completely different team chemistry,” said Bonde. “You’re more than just a team, you live together, you go to school together and you spend so much time together. The friendships pay off on the court.”
White committed to two years at RDC, and despite receiving some interest from Canadian Universities to play at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport level she honoured her commitment. King said Bonde enjoys Canada and was happy to stay longer.
“You get excited and realize the core of the program you can really just add in bits and pieces,” said King. “Those big positions with Eva playing the point and Emily our number one forward are filled.”