All she wanted to do was play some college basketball.
Five stellar years later, the Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves women’s basketball team is grateful Jen Seemann chose to call the Wolves den home.
As the Wolves get set to battle for a return to the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference Final Four, they will look to the fifth-year forward to help them get there and beyond.
But no matter what happens weekend as the Wolves head to Calgary to face the 16-4 Mount Royal College Cougars in the best-of-three ACAC quarter-finals beginning tonight, Seemann’s place in Wolves’ history is secure.
Seemann is the first player in the GPRC’s history to play five consecutive seasons with the Wolves.
In addition to numerous awards and accolades she has racked up along the way, Seemann will finish her career as the Wolves all-time leading scorer and rebounder.
Not too bad for someone who rolled into Grande Prairie as a wide-eyed rookie back in 2003, ready to try her hand at college-level basketball, fresh off her high school days in her hometown of Prince George.
“I was pretty naive,” said Seemann. “I just wanted to play college ball and, as far as I was concerned, I was living my dream. The first year or two the win/loss column didn’t really matter because you’re learning so much and enjoying it and playing, having those struggles that first- and second-year players have.”
Prior to choosing the Wolves, a few other colleges were sniffing out the services of the six-foot guard whose never met a battle under the boards she didn’t like.
But with then-Wolves head coach Joel Mueller heavily pursuing her, Seemann decided to head east to the Swan City.
The nursing program at GPRC, as well as wanting to broaden her horizons, were also factors in Seemann’s decision to come to Grande Prairie.
“I wanted get out and see new things,” she said. “I knew the nursing program (at the GPRC) was awesome. Joel recruited me really hard. He was so good to me and my family. I just felt he was such a nice guy that I would want to play for him.”
For the first three seasons, the losses outweighed the wins as Seemann acclimatized herself to the college game.
After a 6-18 2005-2006 season, it all came together for Seemann and the Wolves last year.
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 at 17-7, good for second place in the North Division. That allowed them to host and beat the SAIT Trojans in the quarter-final to advance to the ACAC final four tournament.
Seemann also finished fourth in the North 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.
Those accolades landed Seemann the GPRC Female Athlete of the Year honour for 2007.
When the 2007-2008 season dawned, it was clear Seemann and her teammates were intent on picking up where they left off.
Following a Christmas holiday trip to Toronto, the Wolves returned with gusto in the second half en route to a 16-8 record that earned them third place in the North Division, and set the table for this weekend’s quarter-final against the Cougars.
“It was good for us because we were playing teams that were ranked sixth and 10th in Canada,” said Seemann of the holiday trek east to Ontario. “We were playing them really well, even beating them. We were looking at ourselves and (thinking) ‘These guys are ranked sixth in Canada.’ We realized we can compete on a national stage. We were just never really sold on it. But that week proved to us we can compete with the big teams.”
Seemann has done her part to aid in another winning season.
The veteran forward continued to be a force under the boards this season, hauling in a league-leading 249 rebounds – 74 offensive and 175 defensive.
She also finished fourth overall in scoring (15.13 points per game) and fourth in blocks (17 in 23 games).
Though she hopes her Wolves career highlights are still to come as they seek to tame the Cougars and get back into the final four, last year’s come-from-behind win in the quarter-finals over the SAIT Trojans remains a fond memory.
“I relive the last minute of that game all the time,” she said.
Many of her teammates who experienced that minute with Seemann last year are back this year for another crack at the semifinal.
That’s just fine with the fifth-year Wolf.
“I feel really lucky to be going back into the same situation with those same girls,” said Seemann. “I’m basically playing with the same team and I wouldn’t want to be going there with anybody else. My teammates have proven they can do it when it matters and I wouldn’t want anyone else standing by my side during playoffs. The trust is there. We’ve been there together before.”
Mount Royal’s imposing record does not intimidate Seemann.
“There are teams from the North that have beat Mount Royal who we’ve beat,” she said. “We haven’t played them yet. They’re always traditionally strong. I know they’re going to be good and aggressive. The south is always aggressive. But the funny thing about the south is you can’t really judge a team by their win/loss column because it’s so spread out down there.”
While she hopes this weekend’s games aren’t her last, Seemann said she’s ready for the emotions that will greet her in that last game, whenever that may be.
“I always said I would probably cry,” she said. “But I’ve been reflecting a lot and I feel so grateful to have had five years when most players don’t even get four. I have that closure. I know I did everything I could do. I’m leaving the program better off than when I came. I don’t feel like I have any unfinished business. Yes, I want to win a National championship, but I feel a sense of closure and I’m at peace with what’s next for me basketball-wise.