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)