It might seem cliché but it certainly applies to the Red Deer College Queens basketball team when you say what a difference a year can make.
After an admittedly slow start to 2012 the Queens had a solid month of January to finish the year with five wins but here we are in November and the Queens have reached that point already with a 5-2 record in the ACAC.
“I think we did a good job of teaching last year,” said second-year Head Coach Mike Woollard. “We brought six kids back, they really did a good job for us last year and got a lot better. I’ve got to really give them credit for how hard they’ve worked. We just got better every day.”
Woollard added the Queens also got a little taller and have more experience on the court which is something captain Sarah Williamson said really changes this team’s outlook on things.
“The experience makes a huge difference in practices and when it comes to games. We’ve just been here before,” said the third-year guard.
While it might be an overused phrase when it comes to team sports both the coach and the player agree the chemistry of this team has carried it to this point of the season.
“When we go on the floor we can trust every single player out there and on the bench too. It comes from every single player whether you play 30 seconds or 30 minutes a night and it’s huge for us right now,” said Williamson.
“I think we’re better than the sum of our parts right now and it’s because we believe in each other and we’re working hard and genuinely like each other on and off the floor,” added Woollard.
He said last year the girls had fun playing and maybe it wasn’t so great on Friday and Saturday night all the time given the losses but they knew they were getting better as the season progressed.
“It was more let’s get by each day and just try your best I guess was kind of where it was last year but now it’s more, we can do this, we’re going to win,” said Williamson.
Winning a few more games this early in the season has already lifted the spirits of the team as it continues on track towards a positive end result.
“When we met at the beginning of the year we talked top six and we’re there right now. Once you start getting a feel of that then there’s sort of a feeling there can be other things but we haven’t won anything yet,” said Woollard.
But there’s no denying there is a little something extra surrounding the Queens whenever they hit the court these days.
“The atmosphere in the gym during practice – we’re intense because we know we’re capable of going off to playoffs and potentially going to nationals,” said Williamson. “We have that mindset.”
The Queens are also blessed with what the coach describes as some very good leadership in the form of Williamson and fourth-year forward Jessica Foley.
“And we’ve got a lot of people who are willing to follow that leadership and work hard,” said Woollard.
Building on the foundation put in place last year is the path the Queens’ coaching staff is following but at the same time things are being kept in perspective.
“It is close but as you get closer the top of the mountain it’s always the hardest part to climb,” said Woollard.