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Youngest Players in the Game, How UBC's Women's Basketball Team is Preparing for the Upcoming Season

The University of British Columbia Women’s Basketball team started preparing for their upcoming season this past week, with their training camp kicking off on Monday. The camp will be the first time the entire team will be together, and it’s the youngest group that Head Coach, Deb Huband, has ever had.

Huband has been at the helm of the UBC women’s team for over 20 years, and has always had upper year athletes help lead the team on and off the court. But after four players graduated this past year, she’s looking to her second and third year players to step up.

“Having no fourth and fifth year players means that the girls are going to learn by fire. It will be a challenge for us for sure and how we do this season will depend on how comfortable the girls are with taking more initiative and having more impact with their presence,” Huband said.

With a young team, a lot of focus will be put on development and Huband hopes that the rest of the team will step up and mentor the new athletes. Bringing a new team together is, “a transition period that takes time,” which requires the returning players to be confident and more vocal.

Training camp is the first time the entire team will be together, after many of the players traveled home after school ended, “we had a lot of girls out of town this summer,” Huband said of the small group training over the break, “we have more girls from out of province and country than we’ve had before, so fewer of them were training in Vancouver over the summer.”

Having the team spread out across the country has delayed the team’s development, but with her experience, Huband knows training camp will give the players an opportunity to bond before the season starts, “the team has a single-minded focus, before they start school. There’s a lot of enthusiasm and excitement about coming together to start a new season and our only focus is the team.”

Strength and conditioning sessions, meetings with sport psychologists, nutrition and cooking classes, and team bonding exercises are some of the off court activities that they incorporate, which educate the girls and help them connect with each other.

With the graduating players leaving holes in the team’s 15-player roster, the coaching staff recruited four first year players to rebuild the team. Some years, recruiting works in a team’s favor, and others years it doesn’t, Huband said of her experience, “we always try to look at the graduating class and see what players we need to build our team, and which positions we need to fill.”

Huband has high hopes for her recruits this year, with three posts, and a guard rounding out her recruiting class.

“We have a couple of undersized post players, Madison Legault and Dina Strujic, who can act as versatile forwards, but over the course of their career they might transition to inside-outside type players,” she said, unsure of the role the two first year players will have in the future.

“We have an incoming perimeter player who’s gritty and feisty,” she said of the first year player, Dayna Pearce, from Regina. Her aggression and energetic style of play is the kind of game she hopes the rest of her team will adopt.

Finally, “we have a 6’3 depth player from Ontario, Kaitlyn Domingues who hasn’t been able to be here for the summer, but will add more size in our practice environment.”

Despite the youthfulness of the team, which makes them the youngest group in their conference, Huband still believes they’ll be competitive, “it’ll be based on our ability to stay healthy, and if the people who we anticipate to step into bigger roles actually do that.”

Overall, Huband is realistic with the challenges that her team will face, but the coaching staff is focused on developing the girls into conference and national champions, “we want to see growth and development from day one,” she said of what she expects, “we recognize that there’ll be a lot of learning, but we just have to be patient, upbeat, positive and bring our all to practice every day.”

The team will play their first game against Brandon University at home on October 5th.

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