The Camosun Chargers Women’s Basketball Team is primed to open the 2019-20 PACWEST season with an exciting new crew featuring six newcomers and a core group of veterans.
This season’s squad includes fifth-year guard and PACWEST Defensive Player of the Year, Tessa Lannon-Paakspuu, and 2018-19 PACWEST All-Rookie Team award recipient, Maddison Manns.
“Tessa was the Defensive Player of the Year last year and she has the ability to earn it again this year,” says Chargers Women’s Basketball Head Coach, Justin Thiessen. “She has a crazy work ethic and an incredible amount of experience, and I know she’ll be taking the opportunity in her final season to go after the PACWEST’s all-time points record.”
Returning for their second year with the Chargers are three talented student-athletes hailing from Claremont – Maddison Manns (forward), Chloe Scaber (guard) and Sierra Riesig (guard).
“You can tell that Maddie, Chloe and Sierra come from a sports school with strong coaching,” states Coach Thiessen. “Their athleticism and skill level are bar none.”
Two highly experienced veteran players, Aiden Kilcommons (Stony Plain, AB) and Jasmine de Vries (Pacific Christian), round out the list of returnees.
“Both Aiden and Jasmine are leaders and will start for us,” comments Coach Thiessen. “Jasmine is quiet and usually the first one in the gym and holds herself to a high standard, and everybody sees that. As a forward, she’s undersized at her position, but she just battles. She doesn’t say much and she doesn’t need to. Aiden, on the other hand, is like the older sister who is always trying to help everybody out. She’s a great communicator and is the one who will step up to help solve an issue on behalf of the players.”
On the heels of two turn-around seasons (led by former Head Coach Cait Haggarty who piloted the Chargers from a seven-year absence from the PACWEST podium, to a silver medal in 2018, and then a bronze medal-winning finish at last year’s championships), Coach Thiessen anticipates another big year for the Chargers in 2019-20.
“Cait was extremely successful in the short time she was here,” states Coach Thiessen. “And we are very fortunate that she did some local recruiting for the upcoming season. We have six strong first year players in place as well as another on her way from Australia next year.”
Suiting up for the Chargers are four local recruits – Ella Calder (guard) and Sadie McMillan-Stowards (forward) from Oak Bay High, as well as guard, Alex Ellison (Pacific Christian) and forward, Maggi Owen (Stelly’s).
“Ella is a knock-down shooter,” states Coach Thiessen. “If she has daylight from three, it’s going in. Sadie has already made huge leaps since she joined us. At 6’2”, she’s expanded her game outside the three-point line. Alex is extremely athletic and we’re still trying to figure out where exactly she fits best… she has a number of skills that stand out and is kind of a Swiss army knife. Maggi is multi-talented and pretty dynamic for a post, and she can step outside the three-point line. We expect all four players to make significant contributions this year.”
Also joining the Chargers are first-year guard, Tamiya Ness from Smithers, and Vancouverite, Leena Yamaguchi (forward).
“We are very lucky to have Tamiya,” says Coach Thiessen. “She’s got a tremendous amount of potential and although I’d like her to stick around, I think that she’ll be U Sports bound in a couple of years. She’s incredibly strong and plays all five positions… the team calls her Tank.”
Completing the list of recruits is Leena Yamaguchi, who is moving from the side-lines as an Athletic Therapist, to hitting the court as an athlete.
“Leena is our 23-year old rookie,” comments Coach Thiessen. “She was an Athletic Therapist at UBC, and managed the treatment of five national champion teams. While she may be a rookie on the basketball court, she has a wealth of experience that will be a great asset to the team.”
Fans can catch the Chargers Basketball teams in their 2019-20 Home Openers next weekend at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence on Camosun’s Interurban campus.
First 50 fans to each game on Friday, Nov. 1 will receive a FREE Chargers Fanwear t-shirt!
Fri. Nov. 1 Women 6pm Men 8pm Camosun Chargers host Capilano University Blues
Sat. Nov. 2 Women 1pm Men 3pm Camosun Chargers host Douglas College Royals
Watch the live webcast on PACWESTBC.TV
“It’s going to be fast and fun,” states Coach Thiessen. “We are running one of the fastest women’s games I’ve seen and I absolutely believe that the team has the ability to get to Nationals. In the pre-season, we’ve averaged 91 shots per game… and that’s low from where we want to be.”