Player alumnus takes over as head coach of basketball Wolves
By DALE WOODARD
Kim Gravengard’s title says head coach.
But in the eyes of the newest bench boss of the Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves women’s basketball team, the title is just that – a title.
And as the Wolves head into their 2007-08 Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference season, Gravengard will be anything but alone as she takes over calling the shots in the Wolves den.
“We’ve always had a good coaching staff,” said Gravengard, who replaces former Wolves head coach Mark Catling, who stepped down over the summer. “We all worked together as a team and the biggest thing is, although my name may say head coach, it’s a coaching team. This is a team sport all the way across the board, including the coaching staff and everybody has an important role to play.”
Gravengard is entering her fourth year as a member of the Wolves coaching staff. She was previously an assistant coach with the team from 2004-07, but she’s also been a part of the team on the court.
After playing high school basketball in her hometown of Fort St. John, B.C., Gravengard (then Pomeroy) played for the Wolves for two seasons and was a member of the 1988-89 team that won a bronze medal at the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association Nationals the year Grande Prairie hosted the all-Canadian event.
While she can draw up the X’s and O’s in the playbook and map out the strategy, Gravengard said it’s ultimately the players who will decide if they will make the move to the national stage they seek.
“When we went to nationals it was a great experience and I try to tell them there’s nothing like it,” she said. “The final four was exciting and rewarding and that’s what they want. When you have players you tell them ‘You have to set the ball in motion.’ I’m here to guide them, but it truly happens by what the players want to do and this team wants to take it all the way.”
Joining Gravengard this year are assistant coaches Dave Waknuk and Bill Shaw as well as assistant coach/academic adviser Jill Burgess. Also lending a hand as part of the coaching staff this year is Andy Ralston.
“So I feel with our coaching staff, as well as our players, it’s going to be a smooth transition and a very exciting year,” said Gravengard.
This much is for certain, with a 2007-08 roster chock full of returning veterans chomping at the bit to build on their 17-7 record last season that vaulted the team into the ACAC final four, Gravengard and her coaching staff are inheriting one highly-skilled Wolves squad (See related story below).
The Wolves enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2006-07, powering their way to a rock-solid 17-7 regular season record that landed them second place in the ACAC North Division.
After dispatching the SAIT Trojans in two games straight in the best-of-three provincial quarter-final, the Wolves found themselves in the ACAC final four. However, their goal of advancing to the provincial final fell one series short, as the Wolves were sent packing in the semifinal at the hands of the Mount Royal College Cougars from Calgary.
With a slew of hungry veterans and up-and-coming rookies intent on making a dent in the ACAC, the goal is simple, get back – and beyond – where they got last year, said Gravengard.
“Our season goal has always been the same. We made it to the final four last year and they want to take it to the next step. Our goal is going to be each game and each weekend is important. We’ll play everybody like it’s the last game.”