The Mount Allison women’s basketball team is prepared for the upcoming season despite the loss of several veteran players who decided to leave the team this year. The loss of these players was unexpected and has left the team with a small roster.
The women’s team is hoping to quickly overcome the team-rebuilding phase in order to retain their elite status as one of the most feared defensive teams in the ACAA and keep their national ranking.
Head coach Matt Gamblin is entering his fourth season with the Mounties and is back with veteran captains Erin Steeves and Sarah McGeachy, who look to build on their two-season experience.
“We didn’t expect to lose who we’ve lost, but the players who are here are all in,” Steeves said.
The current team has an impressive array of talent and a small-but-mighty mentality.
Of the ten-player roster, only eight are active, as Katherine Ollerhead is currently finishing the season with the women’s soccer team and first-year Karly Buckingham is recovering from an injury.
The team has no fourth-year players. With the exceptions of Steeves and McGeachy, everyone on the roster is in their first or second year, which gives the team the opportunity to work with and mould the young players.
ACAA Rookie of the Year Keirsten Mangold is prepared to continue her dominance on the court, taking on a larger leadership role alongside Steeves and McGeachy. Who are all “ready to lead by example by being more vocal,” Steeves said.
“A smaller team has its benefits,” said Kathleen Morrison, a second-year forward for the Mounties. “With smaller numbers, [Gamblin] does a good job of breaking up players and working on their individual skills,” McGeachy said.
The makeup of the team gives the coaching staff a chance to develop players and improve more effectively. “I think we will find that improvement throughout the season will be accelerated,” Gamblin said.
“I have a great deal of trust in [Steeves and McGeachy] in their leadership role. They have done a great job so far this season,” Gamblin said.
“The expectation is growth. We are not a group who zeroes in on a certain number of wins or losses. If we focus on the process, the results will take care of themselves. The goals and expectations are to come to practice and aim to get better every day.”
This season, Mt. A will host the ACAA playoffs and Holland College will host the CCAA nationals.
The team hopes to land a spot at the top of the league and possibly at nationals. This is certainly an attainable goal, as the ACAA conference will send the top two teams to nationals this year.
“Everyone is dependable, everyone contributes,” Morrison said. “The best teams come together when athletes have high expectations of themselves individually [and of] each other as a group, and keep everyone accountable. We have a driven group of athletes this year who have already shown a lot of improvement, and I trust we will continue to do so,” Gamblin said.
The ACAA season kicks off Saturday when the Mounties host St. Thomas University in a double header, with the women tipping off at 2 p.m. and the men’s match beginning at 4 p.m.