Thursday, September 26, 2013

Return of the old, arrival of the new

Late August saw the arrival of the Vred Women Ballers, the fresh and the old. We came together as a whole team for the first time early September.  However, we won’t mention how one player almost didn’t make it to UNB, as Coach Speedy forgot to pick her up from Freddy airport at 2.30 in the morning… Okay I wont keep you guessing, I was this lucky person.

The initial meeting of players and coaches was a little awkward – with most of us being shy, but trust me, this didn’t last for long at all. Everyone’s different personalities were soon on display, and luckily we blended almost perfectly. Within a day we had all “clicked”, which was really nice actually. The vets were ever so welcoming, and offered their help in many ways to the new players. Within a short few days, we well and truly felt as though we were apart of the Vred Athletic Family. Who would have though 16 diverse characters could have bonded so well, so quickly?! After a quick discussion amongst the team, I ended up taking on the role of ‘team blogger’.  I’m from Australia, so I thought every now and then I will add a little ‘international spice’ to the blog. Who knows…you might learn something new!

This year our coaching family consists of the ‘Big Boss Speedy’, ‘Insightful Cotter’, ‘Lovely Leah’ and ‘Charming (at times) Corey’. It’s pretty neat to already know that we have great coaches who believe in and us who are doing their absolute best to help us succeed and reach our goals. From day one we have literally ‘hit the ground running’, which is just what we needed to kick start our training season. This has encompassed team workouts, strength training, cardio and individuals. As a team we have also met with Barb, who is our lovely Mental Skills Trainer. Speedy and Barb decided to implement a weekly reward for a member of the team who has worked extra hard, and put in 110%. It is named the “hard hat award”, and the player chosen is to sign their name on the hat. This week Speedy changed the rules (just this once), and awarded the ‘hard hat’ to two well deserved athletes – Awo and Claire. Congrats guys!!

Along with training multiple times each week, we always manage to fit in some time to spend with our teammates off the court too. Coach Speedy organized a team bonding day for us, with was super fun! Firstly, we headed to the army reserve. Here we participated in a couple of activities consisting of gun shooting (scarrrryyy right!!), rock climbing and we were spoken to by one of the army Sargent’s about leadership. Shooting the guns wasn’t really a scary experience, it was more of a video game style, except we were holding real guns.  

I think Coach Speedy loved being a kid a little more than us here! Next we headed to the rock climbing wall – not everyone was as talented as each other in this activity. However Foxy showed her skills and kicked everyone’s butt! Following our team field trip we headed to support our Vred Soccer Teams at the BMO Field. We also held an extensive team meeting, which was quite enjoyable. Playing ice breakers was fun, and we learned new, unexpected and weird facts about one another. Along with this we spoke about our team rules and expectations, connecting as a whole and the meaning of ‘toughness’.

Getting jersey numbers, and your own personal locker in the team room was something really exciting for the new players – their very first Varsity jersey! Woohooo! Along with this, all members of team were given a nice supply of UNB attire (it kind of felt like Christmas). The sweatpants or “trackies” as I would say were a little on the small side – fitting more like yoga pants…this was a bit of a laugh. But with some exchanging and ordering of new ones, the problem is now resolved.

Overall, I think we have had an awesome start to the year. We have our four coaches, and one another to thank for this.
The commencement of exhibition games are creeping up so quickly, so come and support your Varsity Girls Basketball Team !!

Reds on 2….. 1, 2 REDS!!!

Anyway, bye for now

Laura Bamford,
Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My Final Farewell.

I can’t believe that this is my last blog post.  I’m not sure how it went by so fast, but somehow the year is over and I’m officially retired. For someone who always has something to say I’m at a bit of a loss to find the right words.

I had an amazing last weekend as a VRed. We won our quarterfinal against Acadia on Friday. It was a complete team win.  Our leading scorer had 10 points, and every member of the team contributed in a huge way.

Saturday I went to the market with some teammates and we were continually stopped and congratulated by friends, strangers, and even other teams in the tournament.  Kids wanted pictures with us while we were out for our pregame meal and in the newspapers we went from being “bottom-feeders” to “upstarts”.

On Saturday night we played St. FX in the semis but we came up short. We played two great games, but that loss stung immensely.  Not because of the scoreboard, or because we think we could have won, but because after the game as we sat in the teamroom and Coach Speedy was talking all I could think was that I would never again cut a tape job off my ankles.  I will never again take off my uniform, or put my mouthguard away.  I won’t ever again hear Coach Speedy call down the bench for me to sub in.  Never again will I return to the bench, have Dan hand me my shooter shirt, and have Cory put his arm around me and say “nice shift, kid”.

I was given an incredible gift by being able to play the sport I love. Nothing I’ve experienced has had the defining effect on my life, and my character, that playing basketball has. Being a Varsity Red was one of the greatest honours of my life. I should have never whined to Trevor when we had to run stairs after a leg day. I should have never bemoaned Coach Speedy when he set the clock for 30 seconds and told us to get on the sideline. I wish I could take back the times I thought to myself “is practice not over yet?!” I should have been humbled every day. I should have thanked Trevor for the stairs, and Speedy for the sprints. I should have relished each moment at practice.  

If I could give one piece of advice to the girls next year it would be this: be grateful.  You are not entitled to play this game.  Your spot on the team and your health as an athlete are not guaranteed. Eventually, we all retire and we all move on.  Each day that you get to tighten your laces and make yourself better is a blessing.  Every choice you make impacts your whole team, so choose wisely.  Choose discipline, choose integrity, and choose gratitude.

Now, as strange and as daunting as it is, I have to change the way I define myself.  I no longer have the privilege of answering the question of “who are you?” with “I’m Allie, and I’m a basketball player”. Now maybe I say I’m a beginner yogi, an aspiring writer, and a political junkie. I’m a pretty good cook and baker, and I’m way too competitive.  None of these things are new, but they all paled in comparison to being a varsity athlete.  

The debt I owe my teammates and coaches is unpayable and my talents as a writer fail to express my gratitude to them. You have all taught me lessons.  You have laughed and cried with me, and laughed at me while I cried. You have pushed me when I wanted you to leave me alone, and you have lifted me when I didn’t think I could get up. You told me you liked my cooking, and that you appreciated my tenacity. You each made me better.     

While I like to think that they all adore me, I’m sure there are some things the girls won’t miss about me.  They won’t miss me stealing their socks, and always being the last one ready to go anywhere.  They’re probably glad to get rid of my terrible sense of humour and my bossiness. They’ll be glad they don’t have to worry about me short-sheeting their beds or hiding the rental vans on roadtrips.

And there is stuff I’m looking forward to too. I’m excited to get back on a snowboard, and to never, ever, do another Bulgarian split squat. I’m excited to eat when I’m hungry, and not when my schedule tells me too. I look forward to never replying to an invitation for something fun with “I can’t, I have basketball”. 

For all the things that I leave behind there are those that I am taking with me. I have a tiny bit of arthritis, and a scar on my elbow shaped like Katelyn’s front teeth. I have more cutoffs than I know what to do with and dozens of notes from my bucket that I will keep forever. I have a heightened sense of loyalty, and a decent midrange jumper. Most importantly, I have a clearly defined sense of self and friendships that will last a lifetime.

I’m so glad that two years ago I was tasked with writing this blog. It has been an immense privilege to share a small part of my life and my team with you.  Thank you for your constant support. I remain,


Allie Chalke
UNB Varsity Red 2011-2013

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Finding my Inner Ninja

Last year Barb presented us with a poster of a baseball field. The distance from home to first was the preseason, first to second was November-December, and second to third was January-February. Third base to the plate was the post season. We were tagged out at third.  This year we overran first and rounded second. We tapped the bag at third and (I’ve been waiting a whole year to say this) now, boys and girls, we’re coming home.

If you have been in our gym, or anywhere near our locker room, I guarantee you’ve heard Inner Ninja by Classified and David Myles. It was Mel who played it the first time, and it became the theme song of the teamroom.  It’s rare for us to all agree that we love a song, but this one just worked for everyone.  I can’t count how many times I’ve heard it – but I promise you it is a lot. At first I liked it because it combined Classified’s hiphop with David Myles’ acoustic folk – giving something everyone likes. The more I listen to it, the more I take from it. It’s a song about finding strength within, and about battling against the odds. It is a song for the underdog.

I know you never heard this before // But I'd rather lose a fight than miss the war

There is nowhere in the world I would rather be this weekend than right where I am. Five years of my life, and probably more than that, have led up to this weekend. Every single sprint, drill, and rep for as long as I can remember have been preparing us for this weekend.  There are so many emotions heading into the weekend. Nervousness, anticipation, excitement… you name it – we’re feeling it. Regardless, I am right where I want to be.   

I've been high and I've been real low // I've been beaten and broken but I healed though

This year has been a struggle. I can’t speak for anyone else, but my love for the game has been tested this year more than any other year of my life. I’ve been beaten and broken but I healed though.  We all have. Here I am, closing in on the finish line I’ve been running towards my whole life. For every stumble and moment of hurt I have learned something. As I moved through the weeks of this year I left each one a little tougher and more resilient than I was the week before.

No sweat, no fear, no blood, no tears // I go hard and I ain't makin' up no excuse // I'm overdue, I don't do what I'm supposed to do // Cause you can think about it man, we're supposed to lose // It ain't all picture perfect, ocean views

It’s no secret that we’re the underdog this weekend. Acadia beat us every time we played them this year. But the AUS is an awesome conference to play in – upsets happen all the time and anyone can beat anyone on a given night. 

I’m a big fan of statistics.  I love what the numbers can tell you. There are equations and models that will take all the data about two teams and run them to predict a winner. Maybe, according to the math, we’re “supposed to lose”. But none of those models really work. There is so much more to the game than the numbers: so many things that matter and make a huge difference.  There isn’t a stat that measures hustle plays, or pass deflections.  No one counts how hard you hit a boxout, or how many times you shift the zone.  I can’t assign a number to how good it feels to take a charge or the feeling of a momentum shift when someone makes a big play before the halftime buzzer. The game is full of intangibles – and that is what makes it so great. If it were just a matter of putting some numbers into a computer, sport wouldn’t exist. As my older brother, Simon, used to tell me “that’s why they play the game”.  

When my back’s on the wall, I don't freeze up // Nah, I find my inner strength and I rear up // Here we go, I know I've never been the smartest or wisest //But I realize what it takes

When was the last time you saw a sports movie that didn’t celebrate the underdog? You probably haven’t, because they all do. I don’t care if it’s Hoosiers or Dodgeball.  They all teach the same things: that overcoming adversity is heroic – but possible, that each team is greater than the sum of its parts, and that the ability to achieve greatness lies dormant within all of us.

Isn’t that what sport is all about? Sure, we celebrate Kobe and Lebron, but wasn’t Jeremy Lin’s run just a little more magical? Does anyone ever tire of watching highlights from the Appalachian State v. Michigan football game? Don’t we all get chills when we someone we weren’t expecting pulls out something great?

It's a feeling that you get in your lungs when you run // Like you're runnin' outta air and your breath won't come // And you wheezin', gotta keep it movin' // Find that extra and push your way through it

For three years I lived with my amazing friend Leah Kichmann.  Leah is a professional cyclist. One spring, post season, Leah finally convinced me to get on a mountain bike. As we were getting ready to go Leah pointed out one last thing: “If there is a rock or something in your path and you’re worried about hitting it – do not look at it.  If you look at it you’ll hit it and crash. Focus on the line you want to take and look past the rock.” The metaphor didn’t strike me until later. 

Obstacles find their way into our paths all the time.  On a trail through Garibaldi Park those obstacles are rocks, protruding tree roots, and low hanging branches. In a playoff opener maybe those obstacles are a losing record, a nagging injury, or a team that we’ve failed to beat all year. If we focus on those we’ll crash right into them, hurting ourselves in the process.  We have a path to take, and a safe line worn into the trail by continuous repetition. Our game plan is solid, we just need to stick with it and execute.   
Nobody's gonna see me comin'
Nobody's gonna hear a sound
No matter how hard they tryin'
Nobody's gonna bring me down

There are more metaphors in this post than there are in one of Speedy’s pregame chats (and trust me, that is a lot), but hopefully you managed to stick with me. Tomorrow, when the ref tosses the ball for tip we won’t be the underdogs anymore.  We’ll be two teams, equals on the scoreboard, both fighting for the joy of playing for one more day. If you’re in Fredericton, you need to be at the Currie Centre tomorrow at 8:00 as we take on Acadia. It’s going to be a good one.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Seniors night last weekend was awesome. Having only been here for two years I felt like a bit of an intruder, but the girls who have been here longer were kind enough to share the special day with me. After the game the four of us and our parents went out for a celebratory dinner and then went back to the Currie Centre to see the volleyball boys win AUS. Congratulations boys!!

When Speedy was talking about me at seniors night one of the things he said was that a lot of my past is a mystery. I'm not sure if that's true, because I'm pretty sure I talk too much, but I thought I'd take this week to explain a bit about how I'm 25 and still playing university ball, and how I ended up at UNB. I find self-reflection tedious and a little uncomfortable but I have a nine hour bus ride so what the heck.

I played high school ball at Handsworth Secondary, a powerhouse basketball school that routinely produces NCAA and CIS athletes. At the end of my grade 11 season we had a team meeting and my coach announced that he didn't want to take more than 6 seniors the next year (so that the year after he wouldn't have a weakened team having just graduated too many girls). I counted around the room and knew I wasn't in the top six. I figured I wouldn't make the cut. I made the decision then not to practice or tryout in my grade 12 year.

I did other things that year. I helped coach the grade 8 and grade 9 teams. I was in my school play. I expanded my horizons and did things that I enjoyed. The girls came fourth in the province that year. The boys won. Led by Scott Leigh, Quinn Keast, and Rob Sacre, the boys cruised to their first championship in school history. Three months later, on the night of our graduation, Quinn was killed in a traffic accident. All of our lives changed that night. I didn't know him well but our families were, and still are, close.

It was a wakeup call I wasn't ready for and I chose to go to a school only a few hours away from home. I still wasn't playing basketball, but I saw the team around campus. They had what I had always wanted but was too scared to try to achieve. The summer after my first year of university I was working at a basketball camp in Alberta when a conversation with a fellow coach changed my perspective on everything. To make a long story short she told me that I could do anything I set my mind to. She encouraged me and inspired me to follow my dream. I went back to school in September determined to play basketball again. I knew I wasn't ready for that year, but I trained for six months and then started emailing coaches.

I found out that a brand new university had opened in Squamish, a town equidistant between Vancouver and Whistler. The school was private, and academically rigorous, but small enough that they were competing in the PacWest, the BC conference of the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association. A school with a great reputation but a level of basketball I could handle? It was a dream come true. I emailed the coach, set up a tryout, applied, was accepted, received my scholarship offer, transferred some credits and before I knew it I was enrolled and beginning classes at Quest University.

When it came time to choose a jersey number the choice was simple. Thirteen. The same jersey number that Quinn Keast wore. The same number worn in solidarity by a dozen athletes from my high school class who were playing various sports across North America. It was a number I associated with relentless blue collar work ethic, both Quinn's and my own. It was a number that reminded me of where I came from, and the people I share my past with. A number that symbolized integrity, unselfishness, kindness, and unwavering passion.

I played at Quest for three years before I graduated with the inaugural class and a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences. My three years there were incredible. I was in love with school and basketball. I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do when I graduated, except that I wanted to be a student athlete for as long as my eligibility would allow it. I explored a bunch of options, but my decision was made when I was accepted to the MPhil - Policy Studies program at UNB.

As the oldest rookie in my first year at UNB I got first dibs of whatever numbers were left. As fate would have it, someone switched that year and 13 was free. I couldn't imagine wearing anything else. Years later, and on the other side of the country, the number is still a reflection of everything I value about the game, and aspire to be.

The number has become part of my identity; as much my name as the one on my drivers licence. I turn my head if a ref says it, and I notice it on street signs, house numbers, and digital clocks. I feel possessive of it but connected to anyone else who wears it. This is my last year wearing it. Next year when someone else puts that jersey on it won't be mine anymore. Maybe it will mean something to them, or maybe they'll get stuck with it when it's the last one left and no one wants it. I hope somehow that whoever gets it knows what it meant to me, and how hard it is to let go. Because for me it has always been more than a number. It's part of who I am.


For more info on Quinn and his legacy check out

This weekend we play Friday at 6:00 and Saturday at 2:00 at CBU. For those of you not making the trek to Sydney you can find links to the webcast as

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Seniors Night

I'm sorry I haven’t posted much lately. Honestly, I just haven’t been sure what to say. My feelings are so jumbled these days. It is a struggle to know how I am feeling, much less write it down for someone else. We’re into the final push of the regular season and every one of my feelings has two sides to it. One second I’m grumpy and frustrated and the next I’m dancing around the team room singing out how excited I am that my mom is coming to visit this weekend. There is so much happening right now and it’s hard to sort out.

I turn 25 on Friday. That’s a little freaky. Some days I feel like a total misfit on a team where the average player is six years younger than me. On other days, I’m pretty sure I’m the most immature person in the gym (and every roadtrip when I’m toting my favourite Batman pillow). Still, it’s my birthday, and birthdays mean phone calls from friends and guilt-free cake eating so I guess I’ll take it.

I had a moment last Friday in UPEI when, during a timeout of the men’s game, the announcers took a moment to congratulate Mel and me for finishing our fifth year. It just sort of hit me. I’ll never play there again (and thanks for the shoutout – you stay classy UPEI).

Sunday is our Seniors Night (the game is at 1:00 – does that make it Seniors Day?). For those of you who don’t know, Seniors Night takes place on the last home game of the season. Coaches and teams pause before the game to recognize players who are finishing their careers. We also get to thank our families for helping us get to where we are. This year Mel, Laura, Sam, and I are graduating from the program.

Seniors Night, like everything else in the last few weeks, feels like whole bunch of emotions flying around and making no sense. Perhaps I’m not a talented enough writer or maybe for some things there are no words; I’m not sure. There is a lot to be excited about. Coach Speedy is going to stand at centrecourt and say nice things about Laura, Sam, Mel, and me. We’ll get to hand flowers to our mothers. There will be a lot of crying.

Over the last five years when things have been tough I’ve looked ahead to my Seniors Night as the light at the end of the tunnel. Surrounded by friends and family and standing shoulder to shoulder with some of the strongest and most amazing women I know, I would look around and take a moment to just be proud of myself. Not worried about playing time or missed shots and forgetting every mistake I’ve made in my career. Just a few minutes to be proud, but now that it is so close I’m not sure how to feel about it.

The adult in me is tired. My body aches all the time. I used to relish the contact in the post and now I wince when I see a box out or Sam’s elbow coming. The adult in me drags myself to practice, groans when I get out of bed, and is so relieved when each workout is finished. But the kid in me? The kid in me hates me for it. The kid in me is still running around bouncing off the walls excited that I get to play the game I love every day. The kid in me still hasn’t really accepted that there might be kids who look up to me the way I used to idolize the players at UBC and SFU. The kid in me tells me every day to stop my whining and remember I’m living my dream.

I think the CIS people knew what they were doing when they made the five-year eligibility rule. I don’t know if I would be strong enough to decide for myself when it’s time for me to call it quits. I know that after this year, it’s time for me to be done but somehow, despite all of my exhaustion and frustration, I have a totally irrational desire to keep playing. I guess I am lucky, then, that we still have 4 games left in the regular season, and then playoffs. I recognize my nostalgia, but now is the time to give everything that my body, mind, and soul has left. We need to compete, play, and come together to succeed in the few games that we have left. I suppose if it were easy everyone would do it. The end of my career is near, but it is not over yet. And, while I’ll have to deal with these emotions in a month, now is the time to give everything I have.


Come check us out this weekend as we play MUN, Saturday at 6:00 and Sunday at 1:00.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Shoot For The Cure

Playing basketball has given me an incredible series of opportunities. It has taken me to all but one province, and several trips through the US. It has helped pay for school, given me summer employment, and given me skills that would take me infinite time to write.

Today, however, basketball gives me something way more valuable.  Basketball allows me to take the game I love use and it to help unite my community.

Tonight we host Shoot For The Cure as part of Think Pink Weekend in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. We will be selling 50/50 tickets and raffling a bunch of awesome prizes. Claire, Colleen, and Kylee Speedy will be cutting their hair and donating it to Locks For Love. We will be sporting our new pink uniforms and playing with a pink basketball.  

Battles are fought on different scales around the world every day. Today, while I’m listening to Cory explain an offensive adjustment other people are listening to their doctor give them terrible news. While I’m sitting in video and reading my scouting report they are designing a battle plan that is much harder.

What we do in the Currie Centre is so small compared to what people face in their lives, but it’s all I know how to do.

We are united by all kinds of things. Some are silly, but some are profound. The battle our community faces isn’t going to be stopped by one player’s stand-out performance. Instead, we all have to come together, circle the wagons, and have each other’s backs, because that’s the only way we are going to win this one.

One my favourite things about this game is the way that when you’re playing nothing else matters.  Somehow, a leather ball knows how to turn off the world but I’m taking the pain and loss that cancer has caused the ones I love with me tonight and, I hope, turning into something else; into pride for my team, my school, and the Fredericton community, and into the belief that no battle is insurmountable. 


Tip tonight is at 6:00. Men are at 8:00. Even though we always want you there, tonight it is especially true. Please come out and support us as we take on Dalhousie.

If you can't make it think about checking out women's volleyball's Dig For The Cure and men's hockey's Pink The Rink this weekend.



Friday, January 25, 2013

Tales From The Road

A long time ago I read a blog written by a player at Simon Fraser University. Growing up as a young basketball player in Vancouver you had two choices: you could be a UBC fan, or you could be an SFU fan. I was the former. Despite this fact I was totally into this blog written by a player a SFU. She had this talent for taking the most meaningless thing about her team and making it sound so cool. Every week I looked forward to the insight and inspiration that I got from her writing. To be honest I don't remember a lot of specifics about what she wrote, except for one story. The team was on their way to play the University of Regina, and they arrived, by bus, in Regina in the middle of the night. For some reason when they arrived they weren't able to check in to their hotel. The team, along with the men's team, slept in the bus parked in the parking lot of their hotel - with a game to play the next night.

I can picture it: people all over the place, legs tangled across the aisle running overtop of people stretched out on the floor. Maybe a brave and creative point guard sleeping in the baggage rack above the seats. It must have sucked. And yet, when I read it I was captivated. I wanted that experience. Despite the sore backs and grogginess that must have annoyed them the entire next day, I wanted to be a part of it. When I read that I knew that one day, no matter what, I would play on a university basketball team.

I have a sense of romanticism for road trips - and I think that is where it came from. One of my favourite stories from when I played at Quest is when my team was temporarily stranded in Washington during a snow storm. The bus needed chains but our driver's arms were too thick to fit in the gap between the bus' back tires. My teammate Delainee and I changed into our dirty gear and crawled into the slush under the bus (while our driver happily snapped pictures on his phone). It took a while but we were able to connect the chains and continue through the mountains.

In our preseason this year some jerseys got left behind at a hotel in Maine while we continued south to New Hampshire. After some panicking, a few tears, and some makeshift tape numbers on practice gear we were able to play our game (and win, if I remember correctly).

It isn't often, but stuff like that happens. At the time is sucks but after weeks pass the stories get better and it ends up all being worth it.

We're on the road this weekend, and I'm on the bus right now. Our reservation is made at the hotel, the roads are clear, and I personally helped load the jerseys into the bus. I don't anticipate any drama (knock on wood).

By all accounts this trip is perfectly average. We've got an action movie on TV, and a game of cards happening at the back of the bus. The four dozen banana chocolate chip muffins I baked have already disappeared. Mel is studying (or at least pretending to) and Laura is sound asleep. The stale smell of Subway lingers and Mumford and Sons is blasting in my headphones to drown out the TV's repetitive gunfire. Yup, everything feels the same way it always does.

By my fifth year you think I'd have gotten tired of it but I haven't yet. Maybe it's because a decade ago I read something that associated road trip drama with strengthening team bonds, when being on the bus with my team would mean that I had "made it". We've got an hour or two to go, and I don't have many of these left, so I'm just going to sit back and take it all in (okay, and eat the last muffin that I've been saving for myself).


Tomorrow and Sunday we play Acadia. Both games are set for 2:00pm. Details at

Sunday, January 20, 2013


A few weeks ago I wrote a post about bucket filling and I got an amazingly positive response.  I’ve heard some great stories from people who have used bucket filling in their daily lives.  My mom bought the book as a Christmas present for my little cousins. I heard from two teams out west who are going to start a program like ours. Personally, I got some really sweet text messages from friends congratulating me on my impact.  If you used bucket filling with your family, friends, office, team, or wherever I would love to hear about it, no matter how big or how small.  I’m hoping that I can collect some stories and use them in a future blog post to help keep the bucket-ball rolling … so to speak. Send me an email at


Seventeen months ago I packed my life into a few suitcases and boxes and flew 5,000 kilometers to a community I knew very little about, and who knew even less about me.  I played out west, so I knew what I was getting into; I could balance a full course load with a basketball schedule, I could handle and mediate conflict with teammates, but my knowledge of New Brunswick consisted of a third grade project on the Hartland Bridge and some really scary looking snowstorms on the Weather Network. Now that I’ve settled in here I feel like I just need to take this chance to tell the people of Fredericton that you’re awesome.

Last year I’d come out of the locker room after a game and head back upstairs to watch the boys play.  I’d sit on the baseline bleachers with the girls on my team who were also from out of town, or with Barb, or with Coach Speedy’s kids, but other than that I didn’t know anyone.  In the last year and a half I’ve felt so adopted by the community here. Now while the boys are playing I don’t even have time to talk to all the people I want to see.

I was looking at some stats the other day and I noticed that we have the highest game attendance in the AUS, and one of the highest in the country.  I think that is pretty awesome, and a real testament to how amazing our community is.  One of the reasons I came to UNB is because of how involved the team is in the community.  I haven’t really posted about the stuff we’ve done because I don’t want it to seem like that’s the reason we do it but lately I’m noticing that for all that we “give” we get back more than I realized.  

I remember being approached at half-time of a game last year by a girl in the first grade who wanted my autograph.  I’d been to her school earlier in the week with the Read With The Reds program, and she had brought the book I’d given her for me to autograph. I hadn’t even taken off my warm-up top but this kid had come out to see me. I was floored.

I’ve said it before, and you’re probably getting tired of it, but my team is like a family, and by extension their families are mine too. Linda Speedy cooks the most amazing team suppers, and Mel’s mom has a ‘mom hug’ for me whenever I need one. But the community that I feel a part of is so much bigger than that. Whether it’s a pat on the shoulder from Mr. Springer as he walks by the bench, or my roommate and her friends cheering for me from their seats right at centrecourt I just feel so welcome here. It didn’t happen right away, but somehow over the last year and a half I’ve really started to think of Freddy as home.



Thursday, January 10, 2013

Roles and Legacy

Whether you’re watching highlights on TSN or sitting in the stands at a high school game you hear people talking about “players’ roles”.  Teams can succeed or fail based on how well players understand, accept, and embrace their roles.  Roles on our team are well defined.  Ask any of my teammates what her role is and she’ll be able to tell you.  We each have a list of things we focus on doing every day.

Some roles are a lot more glamourous than others.  There are girls on my team whose roles involve scoring points, running our offense, or leading us across various statistical categories. There are roles (including mine) that aren’t as exciting. Roles that are about making teammates better in practice, and being positive on the bench.

Yesterday we had a “role meeting”.  Everyone met in the team room and we went around and shared our roles.  We do this so that everyone knows what to expect from each other and we can help keep each other accountable.

All this talk about roles got me thinking about legacy, about what gets left behind after a player graduates. (Remember back in September when I warned you about my melodramatic end-of-career ramblings? Well, here we go…).  I have teammates who are going to be in record books, their names on plaques for the rest of UNB’s history.  In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m not one of those players.

I’ve come to terms with that, and I’m okay with it. My struggle now is trying to figure out how be relevant, how to create something that lasts beyond my time here.  It’s like the way that I hope (a little shamefully) that every now and then in the Quest Kermodes locker room someone pipes up with a comment about how they miss me, or a story about something I did.  They’ve moved on, and it should be noted that they’re doing quite well, but a little part of me hopes that they miss me.  I know it’s selfish, but I can’t help it.

I just finished reading Don’t Put Me In, Coach, a book by Ohio State men’s basketball walk-on Mark Titus. Titus chronicled his time as a Buckeye on a blog he created titled Club Trillion.  For the most part he wrote about team shenanigans and the pranks he pulled on his NBA-bound teammates, all while remaining pleasantly self-deprecating.  He became a sort of hero for benchwarmers, average Joe’s, and anyone who was ever picked last.  When a player gets in for one minute and does not record a single stat her stat line reads as a 1 followed by a row of zeros, or, a trillion, and that’s where Club Trillion came from. 

The book really helped me put my role into perspective because there are players like me on every team.  Ones who have embraced their role better than I have. Heck, embraced it enough to publish a book about it.  On my team all of our roles are different, but they are all of equal value. Sure, we wouldn’t be a very good basketball team if our five starters disappeared, but we would be even worse if they were the only ones on the team.

I’m not going to make a play to win a game, or lead my team in a statistical category (except maybe ‘most Trillions’) but that doesn’t mean that my role doesn’t have value. Maybe Claire is a better captain because of conversations we’ve had.  Maybe three years from now Chelsey invites a rookie over for dinner when she sees she’s had a tough week. Maybe Katelyn gets a little bit stronger every day because I’m there pushing on her.  Actually, who am I kidding, that last one is definitely true, and I have the bruises to prove it.


This weekend we play on Saturday against St.FX.  The game times are flipped so the boys play at 6:00 and we follow at 8:00.  Mark your calenders.  As always you can get the details at

For more info on Mark Titus check out his blog at and before you go out and buy his book for your loved ones just a heads up that it's a little crude (if it were a movie it would probably have a 14A rating)