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Ottawa’s Andy Sparks named head coach of Junior Women’s National Team

Thursday March 22, 2012

Canada Basketball announced today that Andy Sparks will guide the Canadian Under-18 women’s national team (JWNT) which will compete at the FIBA Americas Championship this summer.

The news comes on the heels of the Gee-Gees women’s basketball team capturing the university’s best ever finish at the CIS national championships. Sparks led uOttawa to a bronze medal with wins over Saskatchewan and Calgary at the tournament. The Gee-Gees also won the OUA Championship this season for only the second time in program history.

Sparks is in Toronto to help oversee Canada Basketball’s age group assessment camp, which runs this Friday to Sunday at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus.  Arriving from coast to coast, 45 girls will take part in the camp which includes on and off-court sessions, to be assessed by national coaches for both the under-18 and under-17 age levels.

The assistant coaching staff is made up of fellow CIS coaches Donna Branch, who coached the Lethbridge Pronghorns this past season, and Scott Edwards, head coach at the University of Alberta.

“Under Andy’s leadership, the University of Ottawa team has an encouraging core of young players and we are seeing the results of the building process that Andy has undertaken,” said Luc Gélineau, Director of Sports Services. “We are proud that Andy will represent the University of Ottawa with the national program.”

One Gee-Gee commit will be attending the camp with Sparks. Ottawa’s Catherine Traer will join the other invitees competing for a place on the national team. Traer, a 6-foot-1 small forward, commited to uOttawa in December and will join the team in September.

For Sparks, who has been head coach at uOttawa for four seasons, it is his first appointment to a national team coaching staff. He has twice been named the OUA East Coach of the Year (2008-09, 2011-12).

Kellie Ring, who just completed her first season with the Gee-Gees, has competed for Canada at the U16, U17, and U18 age levels.

The JWNT will compete at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women in Puerto Rico on August 15-19. The tournament features teams from 8 countries in the FIBA Americas zone with players born in 1994 or later. The objective for the tournament is to place in the top 3 and earn a bid to next year’s FIBA U19 World Championship for Women. The JWNT will be vying for their 5th consecutive qualification to the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women in 2013.

Canada’s youth women’s program is currently ranked fourth in the world and second in the FIBA Americas zone.

(with information from Canada Basketball)