The pre-season of exhibition games and practicing is finished for the Gee-Gees and it’s time for the rubber to hit the road as the regular season begins.
The Gee-Gees finished the 2009-2010 OUA regular season with a 12-10 record, but peaked at the end of the season for an impressive 3-1 playoff run that saw them all the way to nationals. The Gee-Gees captured the OUA East title, upsetting Carleton 59-54 and earning a berth to the CIS Championships, despite losing the OUA final to Windsor. At the CIS Championships in Hamilton, the Gee-Gees lost two consecutive games to Winsor and Cape Breton to end their impressive season.
Head Coach Andy Sparks returns for his third season with the Gee-Gees. Sparks has led the Gee-Gees to two consecutive CIS championship appearances in as many years with the team. Mario Gaetano returns for his fourth year as associate head coach and is joined by assistant coaches Kim Swenson (4thyear), Ian MacKinnon (3rdyear), and Margaret Jones. The academic mentor and graduate assistant is Kaitlin Long.
Returning for the uOttawa squad is Kayte Chase (Cornwall, Ont.), Catherine Cloutier (St-Hubert, Qué.), Awo Farah (Ottawa, Ont.) and Alex Naylor (Calgary, Alb.). Coming back for her second year is Kizzy Clarke (Brossard, Qué.) who Sparks says “brings a defensive intensity and is an excellent team player.”
Also returning is OUA East player of the year Hannah Sunley-Paisley (Toronto, Ont.). Sunley-Paisley was also named to the OUA all-star team, led the OUA in points, and was named second-team all Canadian. “She’s now a fourth year player who’s matured into a solid all-around player,” says Sparks, “She brings a strong will to win.”
New addition to the Gee-Gees is team captain Jenna Gilbert (Ottawa, Ont.) who transferred from LaSalle University in Philadelphia and will play her third year of eligibility this season. “Jenna will bring an inside-outside presence to coordinate with Hannah,” explains Sparks. Unfortunately, due to a CIS eligibility ruling, Gilbert will not be eligible to play for the Gee-Gees until one full year after she transferred which will be November 23rd.
Also new recruits to the Gee-Gees is Emilie Cyr (Montreal, Qué.), Stephanie DeBoer (Waterloo, Ont.), Elizabeth Dent (Sarnia, Ont.), Elissa Dewit (Cornwall, Ont.), Tatiana Hanlan (Gatineau, Qué.), Madison Kaneda (Vernon, BC), Sarah Nolette (Edmonton, Alb.), Alexandria Roy (Montreal, Qué.) and Kim Cupid (Toronto, Ont.). Sparks especially highlighted Cupid’s “exceptional quickness and excellent potential.”
The pre-season has been much different than Sparks would have anticipated, with almost half of the team missing some or most of the pre-season with injury. “Rookies have been the only people playing for the last three weeks. And we are holding our own with all first year players.”
With only seven players this last weekend in Queen’s, the Gee-Gees are currently without six of nine top players. “We’re not looking for excuses, but this is the biggest I’ve ever seen a team been hit.”
But with this unexpected turn, Sparks identified that “our young players have had a great opportunity. They’re getting their rookie stuff out of the way early and it was a big eye-opener for just about all of them. And hopefully that will pay off for us at the end of the year.”
“We have the ability to be as good a team or better than last year,” says Sparks. “This team will be a fun team for people to watch. In the past, we played a bit more of a controlled style. This year, we plan on playing a higher tempo of game and we’ve recruited a lot of good athletes.”
Heading into their season opener this weekend, the Gee-Gees will only be dressing eight or nine players. “This is a very good weekend for us and a good test to start the year. Being short-manned, it is even more of a test and we will see what character we have.”
The Gee-Gees will host Brock on Friday, November 5thfor their season and home-opener and host Guelph the following night on Saturday, November 6. Game time is 6:00 p.m. both nights at Montpetit Hall. (SSN Canada)