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Future looks bright for Gee-Gees women’s basketball

Friday May 14, 2010

The future continues to look promising for the Gee-Gees women’s basketball program, especially with the addition of an elite class of new recruits this upcoming season.

Although third-year centre Hannah Sunley-Paisley (Toronto, Ont.) may be the only returning veteran player this year, the team will see the return of its athletic group of first-years, complimented by a talented group of freshmen.

Atop the list is Ottawa native Jenna Gilbert, who played a year and a half with the LaSalle University Explorers in Philadelphia, PN. Gilbert was a starter for the team and played in all 29 games during the 2008-09 season, averaging 20.8 minutes, 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.

Since she played basketball under coach Sparks, her decision to come back to Ottawa was greatly influenced by the desire to play for him once again: “My coach at LaSalle wasn't really a good fit for me and so I knew I wanted to play for Andy, like I did in club basketball.”

The Ottawa native, who will be studying in Nursing, was named three times to the national Centre for Performance (CP) developmental program and was also an Ontario provincial team player and an all-star at the national level.

Head coach Andy Sparks said that Gilbert “should be one of the best recruits in the country.”

“They [LaSalle] used her in a different role than we’ll use her,” added Sparks. “We’ll use her as a scorer/passer and they used her as a rebounder, a defensive player [...] She’ll be a great compliment for Hannah [Sunley-Paisley] in the post.”

As for her thoughts on the upcoming season, Gilbert hopes to take on a bigger leadership role and be able to contribute to the team in more than one position. “I'm looking forward to improving as an individual and also seeing the team develop. I'm excited to play in a new league and hopefully we'll have a great season, with lots of wins.”

The Gee-Gees will also be welcoming yet another player from the West. Edmonton, Alb. native Sarah Nolette will be filling the point-guard and the two-position. She is the second player from Alberta to join uOttawa in the past two years, as Calgary native Alex Naylor joined the team last fall.

Nolette was part of the 2009 national Centre for Performance (CP) developmental program and a past Alberta basketball provincial team member. She played for the Ross Sheppard Thunderbirds.

Sparks notes that she will bring not only great talent to the team, but also good character: “I think she’s just a quality person [...] I look forward to seeing her develop over her period of time.”

The opportunity to experience something new and to study in both official languages at the University of Ottawa greatly influenced Nolette’s decision to come here: “I love that it is a new adventure some place completely different from Alberta. The University offers so much for being bilingual; therefore I wanted to be a part of it.” She will be studying Human Kinetics in French.

She also explained that after speaking with Coach Sparks about the team and how he coaches, “[it] gave me butterflies of excitement. I am very excited for representing the University of Ottawa by wearing the garnet and grey!”

Point-guard Emilie Cyr (St-Bruno, Qué.) and shooting guard Elissa De Wit (Cornwall, Ont.) have also signed letters of intent and will be joining the Gee-Gees this season.

Cyr played three years for the Champlain College Saint-Lambert CEGEP AAA team under head coach George Germanos and is expected to make a smooth transition to the team.

“She’s a good assist set-up player,” said Sparks. “I think she is going to make a good adjustment to University because of her background at the CEGEP level.”

De Wit played for the Char-Lan Crusaders and helped her team earn a spot at the 2009 Girls OFSAA ‘A’ Basketball Championships.

There are still some additions to be finalized in the upcoming weeks, some of which will depend on whether third-year Émilie Morasse (Québec, Qué.) decides to return this year or whether she will continue on to pursue other academic goals.