There’s a bittersweet feeling for any athlete on senior night.
For some, the last home game of the regular season is simply a crucial step towards
a future career in basketball. Take Sara Simovic, for example.
Simovic, a senior guard for the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades, hopes to
play professional basketball overseas after this season comes to an end. She grew up
in Nanaimo and started hooping when she was just six years old. Though she only
spent two years with UFV, she certainly will miss the team.
“The whole experience has been awesome; the group of girls and the coaching staff.
I’ve really enjoyed myself the last two years. I wish I had come here right away,”
Her teammate and fellow senior, Shayna Litman, will also say goodbye to the
Cascades following this season. Litman has taken a much different path than
Simovic: she’s been with UFV for six years. As she reflects on her many years with
the team, Litman confesses that being a senior has its ups and downs.
“It’s been exciting, but it’s definitely been a different role to take part in. It comes
with its challenges, but it’s been really fun just being one of the older girls and
having to relate to people that are kind of younger than you in a different way,” says
Litman. “It’s brought out a more fun side of me I’d say.”
Litman, a native of Coquitlam, began playing when she was in elementary school
and has loved the sport ever since she can remember. Though she has played nearly
her entire life, she plans to call it a quits after graduating and focus her efforts on
everything else that life has to offer.
“I feel kind of old,” she laughs. “I’m good after this.”
Both girls will play in their final home game of the regular season this weekend at
the University of the Fraser Valley alongside head coach Al Tuchscherer.
Tuchscherer, who embarked on his journey with the Cascades in 1995, has been the
head coach since 2002. He admires his seniors and commends them for their
different styles of play.
“I think Shayna’s been a really rewarding player to coach. She played with a lot of
emotion and it wasn’t really controlled emotion. And, you’ve just seen her really
mature over the years. She still has a fiery side to her and an emotional side to her,”
Tuchscherer says. “But just to see her channel that in the right direction and channel
that into being a really good player like she is right now is really rewarding to
And while Coach respects Litman’s longevity with the team, he also appreciates the
hard work that Simovic has put in within her short time as a Cascade.
“It’s just been exciting to see a player that you watched in high school, and then you
thought that she had gone on to a different program, and you weren’t going to have
an opportunity to coach her, and then how things happen she ends up coming back
to your program. She’s been a real dynamic presence for us and that’s been kind of a
unique situation to coach her, as well.”
Litman and Simovic, despite the individual lengths of their stays, have left a mark on
this Cascades team and will get to experience a magical night reserved only for
those who have persevered through the hardships that come along with playing
university level basketball. Senior night will honour both of them and truly show
what they have meant to UFV.
“They’re entrenched in the culture of our program forever. These are the types of
players that last for five years or graduated after the fifth year. You continue to talk
about down the road,” says Coach Tuchscherer. “And you talk about how special
they were and the contributions they made, so it’s really quite a special
Both girls have their doubts about the night, though.
“It’s going to be emotional,” says Simovic.
And Litman agrees.
“I’ll be happy that I made it this far because I didn’t think I would make it to my sixth
year, but I’m pretty sad about it now that the time is getting closer. I already know
I’m going to cry this weekend, being that it’s my last away trip, so I know I’ll cry a lot
on senior’s night.”
These two girls have pushed themselves to the limit and have their families to thank
for where they are today. Litman regards her mom as her constant inspiration
throughout her time with UFV.
“She’s been there through everything and just all the times that I have wanted to
quit, she just kind of was kind of there to support whatever decision I did want to
Simovic thanks her brother for always having her back, too.
“He’s definitely helped me through a lot. I think he’s a huge reason why I am the
player I am today.”
As for final advice for the team, the girls wish the best for the Cascades and
recommend that they cherish and embrace each moment – it all goes by too fast.
Coach Tuchscherer says he’ll miss both of his seniors and the impact they had on his
team. He’s optimistic that they will flourish outside of this program and looks
forward to seeing where each path will take them.
“Shayna, more than anything, just keep working hard and keep using your passion
and emotions in a positive way,” he says. “And Sara, just continue to work hard and
Join both girls and head coach Al Tuchscherer for Senior Night on Saturday,
February 3 rd as they take on the Manitoba Bisons for their final stint. Game tips off at
Written by: Crystal Scuor