It seemed only a matter of time before Mike Woollard was officially rehired as the RDC Queens basketball coach for next season.
Woollard did an excellent job last season after taking over from Dawn Smyth on an interim basis while Smyth was on sabbatical. When Smyth announced she wouldn’t be returning the position had to be advertised and it wasn’t until late last week that Woollard was told he was back.
“Whenever they switch levels of employment it’s college policy to advertise the position, so we had to go through that,” explained RDC director of athletics Keith Hansen. “We’re glad to have Mike back. He did a good job last year with a very young team and he’s been working hard recruiting this year.”
Woollard has a possible nine players back from last season and three recruits committed. He did lose import guard Amrei Bondzio from Germany.
“She called and said she wouldn’t be returning, which is disappointing,” said Woollard. “She was one of our top players last season, but I can see her point.”
Without Bondzio back Woollard has two import slots open and he’s been working hard on filling both of them.
“I have talked with four kids and the first two to commit we’ll take,” he said. “It’s close to coming together and I hope to know where it stands in a week.”
Even if he doesn’t fill the import spots, he feels he has a team that will improve on last year.
“We’re always trying to get better and we’ll keep our eyes open, but even if we don’t add anyone else I’m happy with what we have and we’ll be OK as we head into battle next year.”
Of the nine players returning the only slight question mark is six-foot-two Desirae Paterson.
“She had to change courses, so there’s a slight chance she may not be back, but she’s at least 80 per cent sure she’ll return. If we happen to lose her it would be a huge loss.”
One of the key returnees is guard Melissa Woolley, who late last season wasn’t sure if she’d return. Woolley will receive help this season with the addition of Manesha Sidhu of Western Canada High School in Calgary.
The five-foot-seven point guard is a very good passer, can shoot the threes and has a great attitude, according to Woollard.
“She’ll provide a calming influence, as Amrei did,”
The other two recruits, who have committed, are five-foot-11 Simone Bain of Edmonton and five-foot-10, Mozanga Ekulanga, who played last season with St. Mary’s College in Calgary.
Bain plays the large forward position and gives the team added size and strength while Ekulanga can play a number of positions and gives the team even more outside shooting.
“She also drives the basket extremely well and will definitely help us inside, as well as out,” said Woollard.
Rachel Edge of Notre Dame will also be with the team as a red shirt.
“We’re excited to have her. She’s athletic and just needs some experience.”