She wants someone else to win
Prince George's Jenn Seemann is a finalist for CCAA female basketball player of the year, but would be happier if Langara College star Carling Muir's name is called tonight
Wednesday, 12 March 2008, 20:27 PST
JASON PETERS, Citizen staff;
TRURO N.S. -- Jennifer Seemann has a chance to win the most prestigious award in Canadian women's college basketball. She would be glad to finish as a runner-up to Carling Muir.
Tonight in Truro, Seemann and Muir will both be present at the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association All-Canadian banquet. Seemann, a Prince George product who recently finished a five-year career with the Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves, and Muir, a second-year player for the Langara College Falcons of Vancouver, are both up for the CCAA player-of -the-year award. Seemann and Muir have already been chosen as All-Canadians and as the top players in their respective leagues for their accomplishments this season.
Seemann is completely satisfied with her All-Canadian recognition and her Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference player-of-the-year award. But as far as she's concerned, Muir is more deserving of the extra scoop of ice cream on the cake -- the CCAA player of the year.
"She's got my vote for player of the year," Seemann said. "I would not be surprised if she got it, and I wouldn't want anyone else to get it. She deserves it, 100 per cent."
Three other players -- one from Ontario, one from Quebec and one from Atlantic Canada -- could also get the nod for the CCAA award.
So why would Seemann happily hand the honour to Muir before the banquet is even held?
Because Muir did so much more than just play outstanding basketball this season. She did it while battling through the physical and emotional strains of a life-threatening illness. Muir, a six-foot-one forward from Maple Ridge, was the runaway scoring champion in the B.C. Colleges Athletic Association despite the fact she was undergoing chemotherapy treatment for a malignant brain tumour.
Muir's courage and conviction to fight for her own health and the health of others in similar situations brought her to Seemann's attention part way through the basketball season. The two players are linked at the hip through fundraising efforts on behalf of the B.C. Cancer Foundation. But, tonight will be their first face-to-face meeting.
More on those topics later. First, the story of Muir's brush with mortality and her inspiring comeback on the court.
On Nov. 20, 2006, after a practice with the Falcons, Muir collapsed onto the gymnasium floor and went into a grand mal seizure in front of her shocked teammates. Later that night at Vancouver General Hospital, doctors discovered the 19-year-old had a malignant brain tumour. It had grown to the size of an egg. Three days later, Muir had surgery. Half of her tumour was removed. The other half was inoperable.
When she was physically able, Muir began an aggressive schedule of chemotherapy treatments. Those were not easy days. Often, because of the powerful drugs flowing through her system, she was too weak to even stand. But, even then, she was planning her return to the Falcons.
And what a return it ended up being.
One particular week during the 2007-08 season, Muir had chemotherapy on a Tuesday and then scored 21 points on the Friday to lead Langara to a 61-53 win against the Malaspina Mariners. That was typical of the way she played all season. Muir finished the 16-game regular schedule with 297 points, 47 more than the next-closest player, Maria Kirkbride of Malaspina. For the year, Muir averaged 18.6 points per game. She also finished fourth in the league in rebounding with 130 in 16 games, an average of 8.1 boards per contest.
Now you can see why Seemann regards Muir as the slam-dunk choice for the CCAA player of the year. And if the vote came down between the two of them? "I would want her to get it hands-down," Seemann said. "No problem."
During the year, Muir not only excelled on the basketball court, she also spearheaded a wildly-successful fundraising drive for the B.C. Cancer Foundation's Neuro-Oncology Research Fund. At last report, it had generated close to $10,000. More than $1,200 of that total came from Grande Prairie residents, who rallied around Muir's cause thanks to a campaign initiated by Seemann.
Up in Grande Prairie, Seemann was doing a little housework during a break from her nursing classes one day and stumbled across Muir's story.
"Every time I vacuum, I put my TV on so I'm not bored and there was an Edmonton City TV news story, and it was about her," Seemann said. "And I just sat down. It just caught my attention as soon as I heard her story. I watched the whole segment and I just thought, 'Holy cow.' It just struck me and I wanted more people to know about it. It really touched me. It moved me to tears. I was really caught off guard by it. So I e-mailed my team and said, ' What do you guys think if we try to get something going for this girl, raise some money and get her story out there?' She's such an inspiration and I felt like more people should know about her. And they all jumped on board and were totally into it.
"I took the idea to our athletic director, Francois (Fournier) the next day and he totally jumped on the bandwagon. From there, it just snowballed. We had every high school in Grande Prairie behind us. We had all these businesses donating gifts to raffle off. It just turned into this big huge thing that I never would have imagined."
Seemann, a full-fledged nurse and holder of a Bachelor of Science degree, said the fact she works in the medical field did not have any influence on her desire to support Muir's fundraising efforts.
"I didn't even relate to her as a nurse, I related to her as another young girl and another basketball player," Seemann said. "And I just thought, it's been so much work for me to get where I am, imagine doing it with a terminal disease. I kind of felt close to her too. I know this sounds silly, but we're both No. 7 and we're both tall and blonde and we're both the centres on our team. I kind of just felt a connection to her. It was kind of weird.
"It's so cool that I'll actually get to meet her in person (at the banquet). I'm really excited to meet her."
For Seemann, the All-Canadian banquet will be the picture-perfect way to cap off a stellar playing career with the Wolves. At the end of last season, she wasn't sure if she'd come back for her fifth.
But she did. And she dominated.
Seemann, who turns 23 next week, was the only player in the ACAC this season who finished in double digits in average points per game (14.8) and average rebounds per game (10.7). She finished in the ACAC's top-10 in seven different statistical categories -- scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, steals, blocks and double-doubles. In league play, the six-foot Seemann led the Wolves to a 16-8 record.
"I'm not going to lie -- I was so stoked when I found out (I was named an All-Canadian)," said Seemann, a 2003 graduate of Prince George secondary school. "It has been in the back of my head for a few years now, what an honour it would be to be an All-Canadian. Every year I'd see the people who were voted and I'd just envy them, like, 'Oh my gosh, I want that to be me.' So this was like the last thing to do. It was like that last unattainable goal."