Mike Woollard knew coming into RDC this fall he’d have a lot of work to do to build a contender in the Alberta Colleges Women’s Basketball League.
Woollard replaced Dawn Smyth in the spring and didn’t have as much time to recruit as he would have liked, plus he didn’t have a deep group of veterans returning. As well, Erin Wiersma, who was one of the top rookies in the conference last season, decided not to return.
“Erin is in school and into first year nursing and she wasn’t sure of the work load,” explained Woollard. “She would be a great addition, and there’s still a chance she may decide she would like to come back.”
As it is Woollard has only two players — guards Sarah Williamson and Morgan Shultz — back from last year along with Paveena Nijjar, who redshirted last season.
“It’s nice to have Sarah and Morgan back as they give us leadership at the guard,” said Woollard, who has 12 players in camp.
He does have some height, but would have liked a bit more.
“We had a couple of taller players drop out, which hurts. “We do have some height, but could use a bit more depth at the post position. A couple of our taller girls fit in at other positions.”
One is six-foot Hunting Hills grad Teighan Ponto, who will work as a forward, but may be better on the wing.
“She’s very athletic and if she was on the wing and got her shooting down she’d be tough to stop. But right now she’s playing a bit out of position (on the inside).”
Six-foot-one Desirea Paterson of Salmon Arm is a legitimate post player. She was a provincial all-star in Grade 12, but has been out of school for a couple of years.
“She is very skilled but it will take her a little while to get back into it,” said Woollard, who also has six-foot Katelyn Bracko of Calgary up front.
“She has a nice touch around the net and she’s one of the players we need to get going quickly.”
One of the more interesting players in camp is wing Ameri Bonzig of Germany. She played Division III last year and practised with the Division I squad.
“She’s played at a very good level and will be a good leader, although she’s still young,” added Woollard, who also has Hunting Hills grad Carly Kolesnik on the roster.
“She’ll play the wing and is very athletic,” he said.
Also in camp are point guard Melissa Woolley, wing Dedra Janvier, forward/post player Miranda Honey and wing Carly Hoar, all from Northern Alberta.
Woollard likes what he sees from all of them and feels Woolley will develop into a strong guard, despite her five-foot-three size.
“She’s extremely quick and will definitely become a player as she develops,” he said.
Woollard would like to add a couple bigger players, but as of now he feels “happy to field a team.
“We have a lot of character and we have a base to grow into a good program, but It will take time and patience. We may surprise some teams as we do have a lot of character and hustle which are key parts of a team when you’re going through tough times.”
The Queens open exhibition play next Friday against Augustana on the road. They’ll compete in the ACAC/CIS Showcase tournament in Edmonton Sept. 28-30 and host St. Mary’s College and Ambrose College Oct. 11-13. They open league play at home Oct. 26 against Grant MacEwan University.