MacNeil looks to quietly lead Wolves to another successful hoops season
She prefers to lead by example rather than with sheer volume.
But don’t think for a second that Leah MacNeil doesn’t want to make her mark in her third year with the Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves women’s basketball team.
“Leah is a great person. She’s shown she wants to be on this team,” said Wolves head coach Kim Gravengard. “Her fitness skills and her game have improved so much. She’s ready for this year and she’s not going to sit back and let it happen without her. She’s a silent leader on the team.”
As the Wolves look to build on their highly successful 2006-2007 Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference season that saw the squad go 17-7 and advance all the way to the Final Four, they’ll look to the likes of MacNeil and a host of other veterans to carry them to the next level.
That starts tonight as the Wolves throw open the doors on their 2007-2008 regular season when they welcome the Lakeland College Rustlers to the GPRC gymnasium.
“I am a silent leader. I don’t really say too much,” said MacNeil. “I’m definitely good at pushing the girls as hard as I can to get where they have to be. It’s going to be interesting to see how everybody falls into their roles this year and to see how I can help people do what they have to do.”
Judging by the numbers she put up last year, MacNeil has done her part to aid in her team’s success.
The third-year Wolf put up 141 points in 28 games and hauled in 105 rebounds – 44 offensive and 61 defensive.
A large chunk of last year’s squad that engineered that memorable run to the Final Four will be back alongside MacNeil for the coming season.
“It‘s exciting to know there are so many returning players,” said MacNeil. “The same dynamic is going to be happening this year but we’ve also added a lot of talent as well. It can only get better from here. From last year’s team we’re just building and it’s going to get better.”
Step one is the Rustlers tonight and Saturday.
“It’s our first regular season game. It’s going to be very exciting,” said Gravengard. “We went down to a preseason (tournament) and we never had to cross paths with them. But they’re always a strong team that comes out well, but I think our girls will be able to handle the pressure quite well.”
Still, the Wolves’ skipper anticipated some jitters on opening night tonight as the Wolves look to build on their memorable 2006-2007 campaign.
“You’re always nervous,” said Gravengard. “It’s the first game of the season and it sort of sets the tone to where you want to go.”
The biggest difference this year – thanks to their 17-7 regular season record and advancement to the Final Four – is that now the Wolves head into a season as a genuine contender, not as a league doormat looked at as a guaranteed victory by the higher -ranked teams.
“People are looking at us differently this year” said Gravengard..” It’s not the 6-24 team, it’s a reverse.”
With that comes pressure to maintain the lofty status they built for themselves last season.
“It’s a little bit different for the girls,“ said Gravengard. “But we handled the pressure well last year (and) I think they’re capable of handling it this year.
“The girls have set big goals for themselves but there isn’t anything that I don’t think they’re capable of reaching.”