Amy Szymanek was comfortable joining the RDC Queens basketball squad this season.
The 18-year-old Stauffer native spent a significant amount of time at RDC watching her older brother, Kevin, with the basketball Kings.
“My older sister also ran cross-country for the college, so I had an inside perspective on college sports,” she said. “I knew the pros and cons and knew what to expect. It was especially nice coming to a college I knew.”
What Amy didn’t know was that Queens head coach Ken King would switch her from guard to forward.
“It’s all new to me, but I’m liking it so far,” said the five-foot-nine David Thompson High School grad. “It just comes down to how hard you work at it.”
King, who watched Szymanek for three years with the Queens Club program, felt Amy was a perfect candidate to make the switch.
“We wanted an all-around player … someone who is dynamic enough to move around as we need her to,” said King. “As we get bigger (as a team) she’ll be able to move to guard. She has the ability to play inside or outside the three (point line).”
Szymanek admits she’s still adjusting to the move, especially being up against against taller players.
“Everything is a fight, especially with me being up against bigger girls, but then being a bit smaller I think is an advantage as well as they sometimes take me for granted and I can exploit that.
“As well having the ball handling and shooting skills from playing guard definitely helps.”
So far it’s working out as she’s playing 19 minutes a game, averaging 7.5 points per game, including 11 against Ambrose, and 6.5 rebounds per start, including eight against Olds.
Coming from a 2A program there was a significant gap between high school and college.
“The compete level is significant,” she said. “You have to leave it all on the court … everyone is a threat all the time. You need to work hard all the time, there’s no breaks.
“And here it’s all basketball … it’s taken so seriously. You need to be mentally tough. But I knew that coming in.”
King knew she would be able to handle whatever he tossed her way.
“I worked on and off with her in club, but (former RDC star) Emily White was her coach which gave her more of an insight into our program and how things are done. She’s a hard-work kid on her on and add Emily’s coaching style, also helped her grow.
“Every day she shows a large amount of growth and that comes directly from her effort.”
Amy got into basketball in Grade 7 and by the time she was in high school had her sights set on playing at a post-secondary institution.
Playing club basketball helped reach that goal as well as playing with a solid high school program, which won the provincial high school 2A consolation championship her final two years.
“In club I played with some of the college girls and against college players which definitely helped develop my game. As well playing in the high school provincials was a complete diffident level of competition as well.”
She also tried out for Team Alberta.
“I didn’t make it, but the exposure was good for me … it made me work that much harder. You have to take those losses and use them to your advantage.”
Szymanek is in the Education program and may only be at RDC for two years.
“As of right now that’s what it looks like as I’ll transfer to the U of A and eventually teach high school.”
The Queens are off to a 0-2 start to the season as they develop as a team. They host 2-1 St. Mary’s University tonight at 6 p.m., followed by the men.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org