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Thursday September 22, 2011

The Gee-Gees women’s basketball program is excited to announce its team for the upcoming 2011-12 season.

A great recruiting year started with the signing of Kellie Ring, a 5’10 point guard from Louis Riel High School. Kellie had an outstanding year, winning the provincial high school and club championships and then being selected to represent Canada at the U19 world championships in Chile, where the Canadian team finished 5th.

The following months resulted in a new look GeeGees team for the 2011-12 season with a solid returning group and nine new players.

Throughout last season, and more specifically at season’s end, it became apparent that this young Gee-Gees squad could benefit with the addition of more experience and veteran leadership. As such, Sparks is adding two fifth year players in local centre-forward Bess Lennox, Ottawa, Ont., and point guard Teddi Firmi, Kitchener, Ont.

Lennox is no stranger to CIS basketball insiders after spending four seasons with the University of Western Mustangs. The 6’2 Ottawa native, who played at Ashbury College for Coach Sparks, is set to make her return to the CIS where she was a First Team All-Canadian and OUA Player of the Year in 2009.

Firmi, another CIS veteran, is returning for her fifth and final year of eligibility with the Gee-Gees while studying for a Master’s degree in Sports Management. Back in 2006, she was named the OUA East Defensive Player of the Year as the point guard for the Queen’s Golden Gaels.

Both Lennox and Firmi will join Jenna Gilbert as captains of the 2011-12 GeeGees. “We needed leadership and bringing in two girls who were captains of their university teams is very positive for us. Those two along with an outstanding group of first year recruits should strengthen our roster considerably” said Sparks

Sparks will also be injecting some fresh youth, athleticism, and size with the addition of Maddie Stephen, Toronto, Ont. Ashley Hoover, Windsor, Ont., and Kaitlin Dafoe, Huntsville, Ont. Both Stephen and Hoover measure 6’1, and will add some much needed size up front for the Gee-Gees. Stephen, a former Provincial team player with great rebounding skills and tremendous upside was selected to play in the All Canada high school all-star game.

The Gee-Gees are equally excited to welcome home Emilie Vachon, a 5’10 guard who played for Andre Desjardins at Louis Riel High School and Coach Sparks for the Ottawa Shock. She is returning to Ottawa after a year at Binghamton University where she was an injury red shirt; she will be eligible to play this fall.

Rounding out this class of recruits are two Gatineau natives Ariane Lachance-Scantland and Renée Leduc. Lachance-Scantland is a 5’10 forward and former Quebec provincial team captain who was named the 2010 Female Athlete of the Year by her college team, Nouvelles Frontières of Gatineau. Leduc will be foregoing CÉGEP and moving straight to the University of Ottawa; despite her young age, Sparks believes she will be able to develop and mature into an excellent player.

All in all, Sparks is very pleased with his new group of players and feels they have addressed the needs of the team. “We were young last year and not big enough. Once you got passed Hannah (Sunley-Paisley) and Jenna (Gilbert), we were too small,” explained Sparks.

The new recruiting class will be joining a solid group of returning players including:

Hannah Sunley-Paisley (2 time all Canadian center), Jenna Gilbert (entering her first full season with the GeeGees after playing at LaSalle University in Philadelphia), Tatiana Hanlan a second year guard from Gatineau, Emilie Cyr a second year point guard from Montreal, Sarah Nolette a second year shooting guard from Edmonton,Lizz Dent a second year forward from Sarnia and Elissa Dewit from Cornwall Ont..

“The leadership, size, and strength are all factors that I think we have taken care of with this group of players. I think everyone is very excited, but we have a great deal of work to do to put it all together,” concluded Sparks.