Wolves' Female Athlete of the Year rediscovered her love for the game of basketball
By JEFF KORENKO
You'd never know it by the expression on her face when she has the basketball in her hands and is driving to the hoop or attempting a jump shot.
A fierce competitor, Jennifer Seemann always looks angry when she is in the moment on the basketball court.
But deep down, the fourth-year forward out of Prince George managed to fall in love with the game again in 2006/07 and it helped her become a more complete player and team leader as the GPRC Wolves women's hoops team experienced a renaissance.
What was involved in having that happen made Seemann feel being selected as GPRC's Female Athlete of the Year at its annual Festival of Gold athletics awards banquet Friday night was simply icing on the proverbial cake.
"It means a lot to be recognized, but it is kind of just icing on the cake, because this is the best season we have ever had. It was the most fun I have ever had," beamed Seemann, who beat out four other female candidates for this year's honour.
"My team made me love basketball again. Really, the award doesn't mean that much in respect to the whole season we had. It's icing on the cake because I already felt like a winner before I came here (Friday) night."
Admitting to being somewhat frustrated after the Wolves continued a futile stretch by finishing 6-18 and out of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference playoffs in 2005-06, Seemann's passion for the game got a jolt in the off-season with the arrival of new head coach Mark Catling.
The new coach immediately put the squad on an intense training and nutritional regimen, then preached the squad would be a team in every sense of the word.
Led by Seemann's team-highs in scoring (16.04 points per game), rebounds (8.85 per game) and blocks (21 in 27 games), the Wolves finished the regular-season a remarkable 17-7 for second place in the North Division. That allowed them to host and beat the SAIT Trojans in a quarterfinal and advance to the ACAC final four tournament.
While she finished fourth in the division and fifth in the conference in scoring, first in the conference in rebounds for the second consecutive year and third in the division and fifth in the conference in blocks, the numbers were made possible by the overall commitment shown by the whole team throughout the season, which helped her play with a renewed vigour, Seemann said.
She also recorded at least 10 points and 10 rebounds in eight games this past season.
"I learned to love basketball again. The last three years were fun years and they were rewarding, but they were a struggle in their own way and I finally feel like all my hard work has paid off and the team's hard work is beginning to pay off," said Seemann.
She was selected for the accolade over volleyballer Erinn Brady, soccer player Amanda Walmsley, provincial champion curling skip Cary-Anne Sallows and badminton's Charlene Antaya.
She was quick to credit Catling for challenging her in certain areas that in past years she was not given responsibility for. And while that led to the two butting heads at times - as Catling pointed out in announcing the team's award winners Friday - throughout the season, Seemann also acknowledged she became a better player because of that.
"Mark is hands-down the best basketball coach I have ever had. I wouldn't say (we butted heads like he did), but sometimes I can be blunt (and) he knows how committed I am to the team and passionate I am about the team," Seemann said. "He pushed me to take on a leadership role this year and talked to me about stepping in and being a leader on the floor and that meant I needed to be a leader off the floor, so that was something I really tried to work on."
Having received a fifth year of athletic eligibility, the nursing student is considering a return to the court for the Wolves in the fall.
"I am really leaning toward returning, because the team should be that much stronger," said Seemann. "Hopefully I come back and we just continue from where we left off."