Preparation never ends for a sports team. For the Cascades women’s basketball team, in the middle of their 2015-16 season, that means recruitment for ‘16-17 is already underway.
The team has just signed three new players: Victoria Jacobse, a 5’11 point guard from W. J. Mouat Secondary in Abbotsford; Jessica Cameron, a 5’10 wing from Western Canada High School in Calgary, Alberta; and Jessica Zawada, a 5’11 forward from McMath Secondary School in Richmond.
“They’ll train with us all spring and summer and then officially begin with us in the fall in September,” head coach Al Tuchscherer says.
With players graduating every year and a constant need to sign new players, Tuchscherer explains why he decided to sign Jacobse and Cameron to the team.
“[Jacobse] can do a lot of things,” Tuchscherer says. “She can create shots for other people, she can be a passer, she’s a smart player, she can shoot the ball, she’s a good rebounder. As a guard, that’s an unusual skill to have, too. I think she brings a lot to the table, and she’s got a great personality, too.”
“Jess [Cameron] is more of an off guard type player for us,” Tuchscherer continues. “Jess has some versatility in her game. She can shoot the ball a little bit and she can rebound, but the thing I like about her is she plays the game with a lot of determination and a lot of grit, and that’s how we like to play the game here.”
For Tuchscherer, recruitment can come in many different forms.
“Throughout the year I’ll probably have about a hundred kids email me and say that they’re interested in our program,” he says. “We’ll [also] identify kids that are in grades seven and eight — they’re on our radar already and we’ll watch their game. [I’ll] get out and watch them play, and talk to their coach and maybe their parents a little bit and just see what they’re interested in.”
But even then, recruitment isn’t as easy as a couple conversations with a few promises sprinkled in. With universities all over North America recruiting student athletes, including six other CIS teams in BC alone, competition between universities is stiff.
“Recruiting’s probably the most challenging part of our job,” Tuchscherer says. “There are so many options for [students] now.”
While his team focuses on rising above .500 and making the playoffs, Tuchscherer, as coach, needs to be able to take the long view.
“We’re right in the heat of this season, so the focus is really on getting the most out of this year’s team and maximizing our potential and our talent here,” he says. “We’ve got a lot of really good things going on here with this year’s team, but I’m looking forward to next year.”
With new talent, varsity teams are always in flux; rarely does success last long enough to be called a sports dynasty, but neither does failure doom a team for too long. Coaches looking to recruit players, then, always have the potential of renewal to believe in, the idealism that anything is possible.
“We want to contend for Canada West championships and for the national championships,” Tuchscherer says. “Every year that’s a goal of our program, to do those things. Every year we want to get better.”