Print Edition: January 23, 2013
UFV athletics seems to be on a roll these days. With various teams being ranked in the top 10 in the nation there is a lot to be proud of in our little school. A definite highlight of the year thus far has been the outstanding performances put on by our women’s basketball team. Currently ranked number one in the nation and currently sitting at 11–1 and in first place overall in the Canada West University Athletics Association (CWUAA), the team has consistently proven itself to be tops in the nation.
The Cascades, as of January 19, sit in first place in all of Canada West. On average the team has a winning margin of plus-16.8, and has 10 players averaging more than ten minutes a game with no player averaging more than 30 minutes a game. In short the team uses a deep bench and consistently blows the opposition out of the water. The team has depth and experience; boasting a roster full of third and fourth year players and scoring is done by committee with four players averaging more than 10 points a game and several others regularly contributing.
Surprisingly, a moment that does well to summarize the season so far for the Cascades came from a rare night where they did not come out the victor. In their final game before the Christmas break, the team was out on one of the worst road trips in the league. After collecting an easy win on Friday night in Brandon, the team had to bus overnight to Regina to a hotel where they would play on Saturday night. A six-hour bus ride in the middle of the night is never fun, but they ended up getting delayed further due to extreme winter conditions. In the end, the women’s squad walked off the bus and onto the court with no sleep or preparation time to face a Regina team that was widely considered the top team in the country on one of the most notorious courts for a little bit of referee home cooking. In a hard fought battle the Cascades finished the game with a four-point loss. Despite the end result, the Cascades could hold their heads high and walk away with a new level of confidence; it was now clear that they could play with any team in the nation no matter the situation or location.
The Cascades are a team that grew into their success. Masterminded by Al Tuchscherer, the team all came in as first-year students from the junior Cascades program designed by Tuchscherer to draw in local talent to a university that many in the past would have overlooked in favour of the province’s bigger schools. In the early years for this team, it was rough-going. To be on the losing side of lopsided scores was not an uncommon occurrence. But according to Nicole Weirks, a fourthyear forward from Chilliwack, those years are finally paying off now.
“The previous years were just part of the process for us,” she said. “This year is just a result of all the work we’ve put in over those past years, growing as a team and finding out what works for us.”
Whatever the secret formula to chemistry is, the Cascades seem to have found it. Maybe it was suffering tough loss after loss in the early years, or the bonding that came with huge playoff victories in recent years; whatever the case, something is going very right now for the Cs. Night in and night out the pure joy of playing the sport they love is apparent on the faces of every player on and off the floor.
On their chances at a national title run, Weirks wasn’t taking anything for granted.
“There is still a lot of work ahead of us before we get there, and we’re playing against a lot of good teams who have a lot of top class players,” she said. “Our best now can’t be our best come March if a national title is going to be a possibility for us.”
A great way to answer the question without actually answering it, a skill that takes many years for most athletes to learn. One thing is certain however; regardless if this season ends in a championship or not, this team will continue to play an electric brand of basketball and will likely go down as one of the most talented basketball teams that have ever played in the Fraser Valley.
The Cascades next home games are January 25 and 26 at the Envision Athletic Centre.