September 20, 2017
One BC team is starting their season off a little differently than most, and is taking team bonding to new heights with a trip to Asia.
Trinity Western Women’s basketball team left Vancouver on Friday, to travel to Japan and China on a 10-day trip filled with clinics, competitive match-ups, and support for the school’s international MBA program.
Trinity Western has an academic partnership with the MBA program at the Tianjin University of Finance and Economics, in China, which gives students the opportunity to take their studies abroad.
“This is a way to celebrate the formal agreement that the two schools share,” Cheryl Jean-Paul, Head Coach of the Women’s basketball team, said of the trip, “so it’s a great opportunity for us to celebrate the joint program while also getting to play against very good Chinese basketball teams.”
In Japan, the team will be participating in clinics, and playing against local colleges before travelling to China where they’ll play against universities in Beijing. Not only will Trinity Western be attending TUFE’s graduation ceremony for the MBA program, but they’ll also face off against the TUFE basketball team, which is considered the “crown jewel” of the school, following several national championship title wins.
(Credit: Tessa Ratzlaff)
The trip will be a new experience for the athletes and coaches alike, and Jean-Paul believes international travel is important for helping teams prepare for upcoming seasons, “it’ll allows us to figure out the team dynamics early in the season. We want to make sure we’re as ready as possible,” she said of how the trip will impact the team, “travelling internationally allows us to experience so many cultural things together, which provokes different conversations that the girls might not otherwise get the chance to have.”
Jean-Paul understands how grueling the long seasons can be and wants the to start the year off on a positive note, “the university season isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon, so team dynamics are very important and I think this trip will be good for building a solid team foundation.”
Having a good understanding of team dynamics, it is important, particularly when there are several new additions to the roster, “any time you bring in one new player it changes things, so bringing in six is going really going dramatically change the team dynamic,” Coach Jean-Paul said, referring to the four first year players, and two fourth year transfers that have joined her roster this year.
The team has been building momentum over the past two seasons. Jean-Paul said the success of making it into the post-season, two years ago, was the driving force in pushing the team to work hard last year. It paid off and the team successfully defeated Brandon University in the first round of the Canada West playoffs.
“The training in the offseason last year was so different than it had been in the past,” she said of how the success motivated the team, “we knew exactly what we were moving toward, we wanted to make playoffs, we trained harder, and we were no longer stalled by the little unknown things that held us back in the past.”
Jean-Paul and her team are heading into this season with that same mentality, of learning and progressing. Jean-Paul said she ‘s focused on making sure the team is improving every day, instead of looking too far in the future, “it’s just about being better this week than we were last week,” she said on her coaching philosophy, “ultimately do we want to make playoffs? Yes, but not if we don’t get better week-by-week, and so that’s been our theme since the off season.”
Jean-Paul has had her share if coaching challenges over the past couple of years, with many changes to the schedule structure, and groups of new athletes, but her main focus has always been her team, “nothing is the same [each year], and I think its good to go into every season accepting that, but also recognizing that we’re a different team and focusing on figuring out the strengths of the new group.”
Finding her team’s strengths and building off last year’s success are her goals this season, “our program is learning one year at a time and working toward being the team that we think we can become.” With that said, watch out for Trinity Western looking to clinch another play off spot this season.
(Credit: Tessa Ratzlaff)
Written By: Sarah Reid