Following an eight-year absence from the PACWEST podium, the Camosun Chargers Women’s Basketball team impressed both fans and foes alike last season with their tenacity and determination as the squad fought their way to an epic battle in the gold medal game of the 2018 Provincial Championships where they netted the program’s first medal finish since 2010.
If last season’s sensational PACWEST silver medal run is any indication, this year’s squad, which is led by returning Head Coach Cait Haggarty, will provide fans with plenty to cheer about.
“I think that we have a similar philosophy coming into this year,” says Haggarty who is in her second year of coaching at Camosun. “We have some of the girls back from last year so it’s not like we’re totally starting from scratch. We’ve also added a couple of players who are really going to help us this year. We’ll just take it one weekend at a time, focus on the little things and take care of the day to day. It’ll be an exciting group to watch, for sure!”
Making a return to the Chargers roster are fifth-year guards Kathryn Candell (Nursing) and Ashley McGinnis (Community, Family and Child Studies), fourth-year guard Tessa Lannon-Paakspuu (BSFL – Exercise and Wellness), fourth-year forward Isla Swanwick (Business), third-year forward Mia Roberts (AD Arts) and third-year post Jasmine de Vries (Sport Management).
“We’re looking for Ashley to have a big year for us,” comments Coach Haggarty. “She’s going into her fifth and final year so we definitely see her as running points and being our lead out there. Kat, Tessa, Mia and Isla all worked really hard over the summer and we’re excited to have everyone in this group take on more this season. Jasmine played a lot of minutes for us last year in the post so we’ll be looking for her to make an impact… she’s our big, big!”
Adding an extra helping of experience to the program are transfer athletes Lauren Janzen (Criminal Justice) who played two years in Saskatchewan at Briercrest Bible College before suiting up for the Columbia Bible College Bearcats in 2017-18 and second-year Aiden Kilcommons from the University of Victoria Vikes (2016-17).
“Lauren and Aiden are two great additions,” comments Coach Haggarty. “L.J. is just getting a feel for how we play and how we run. She’s a hard worker and we’re happy with how she’s making the switch-over. Aiden is definitely a competitor. Having played at the university level, she goes hard and she’s a solid body for us, which is nice to have on our perimeter.”
Newcomers to Camosun include a trio of Claremont grads Maddison Manns (Criminal Justice), Sierra Reisig (University Transfer) and Chloe Scaber (Arts and Science) and Sydney Belton from Belmont (Arts and Science).
“We’re really excited about our rookies,” states Coach Haggarty. “We’re confident that they’ll be able to step in and make some significant contributions even though it’s all fresh and they’re just coming straight into it.”
Joining Coach Haggarty on the bench is an all-Chargers Women’s Basketball Alum group who make up the crew of Assistant Coaches: Courtenay Lowther, Niki Sundher and Ella Goldschmid.
“Niki, Court and I had a blast last year,” says Coach Haggarty. “We are always on the same page and saw the addition of Ella as such a positive for both us and the team. She’s just fresh out of playing so everything is right there. We often go to her for a little bit more of a player feel in terms of what we’re thinking, so having her has been just awesome. Nik and Court bring everything that they brought last year and more. I think we’re all a little bit more comfortable with the coaching roles that we have and just working all together. I’m really excited about getting to spend the year with these three!”
The Chargers kick-off the season this week in Victoria with their 2018-19 Home Openers. On Thursday, it’s an Island Rivalry as the Chargers face off against familiar foes, the VIU Mariners. In Friday’s match up, Camosun takes on the PACWEST’s newest addition to the conference, the Okanagan College Coyotes from Kelowna.
Coach Haggarty and her squad are excited to welcome fans to the new season and to make a return to the PACWEST stage.
“I think fans can expect to see more of a run and gun kind of style from us,” says Haggarty. “We’re looking to step up our defensive presence at bit from last year, so that’s definitely been a focus in pre-season. We’re small, so we’re just going to try and run and push the ball and make quick scores. Hopefully, it turns out to be an exciting, fun way to play basketball. We can’t wait to get started and have our fans jump on board and ride this wave with us!”
Catch the Chargers basketball teams in their first games of the season this Thursday and Friday at the Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence, located on Camosun’s Interurban campus (4371 Interurban Rd).
Thur Nov 1 Camosun hosts VIU Mariners Women 6pm; Men 8pm
Fri Nov 2 Camosun hosts Okanagan College Coyotes Women 6pm; Men 8pm