Women's basketball recruits bring experience and excitement to the courts

Chris Kowlessar
Sports Editor

The Lakehead University women’s Basketball team has added 5 new recruits to their team for the upcoming 2011/2012 season. Karen Sawchuk, Erika French, Jamie Hutcheson, Alex Riddle, and Laura Cooper will be the new blood suiting up for the Wolves.

6’4 Post Erika French of Owen Sound, ON, was highly recruited by CIS teams from coast-to-coast. Erika is currently playing for the Tri-County Thunder JUEL team out of Waterloo.

Some of her athletic achievements include 4 undefeated high school regular seasons, 4 league championships, 2 regional silver medals, JDP All-STAR, Top 20 All Canadian Prospect Camp, 2010 Nike Fair Play Award, Captain and MVP of her high school team, as well as two U19 OBA silver medals. She is also an honour roll student.

Erika had a number of opportunities but it was her trip to Thunder Bay that sealed the deal: “Before I visited Lakehead I was really confused as to where I should go to university. When I came to Thunder Bay, I immediately felt welcomed, not only by the team, but by the university staff as well. I enjoyed my visit so much that at the end I didn’t want to leave. I know that Lakehead is the perfect fit for me not only for the basketball program but also academically. I am extremely excited to join the Thunderwolves for the 2011-2012 season and to compete with my new team mates.”

“Erika is a super fit for our program”, explains coach Kreiner, “She has great length and athleticism [with] a tremendous desire to learn and a huge upside. She understands what she needs to do to prepare herself for the rigors of CIS play and possesses the attitude to get to that level. Erika has already made a great impression on our team and coaching staff.”

Karen Sawchuk, from Fonthill, ON, is a graduate of E.L. Crossley Secondary School where she co-captained the team all four of her years and was named team MVP three times. A 5’ 7” point guard, Karen’s basketball resume includes 2 regional all-star team appearances, and a spot on the Niagara region team competing in the Ontario games.

Head coach Jon Kreiner is also looking forward to this addition. “Karen provides us with depth at the point guard spot. She is athletic and sees the floor well. [She’s also] a tough defender and is an aggressive offensive player who will take it strong to the basket but can also knock down the three. [She] is an important piece for our future [and] has to get stronger and work hard to make the jump to the university level.”

Jamie Hutcheson, 5’10 Guard of Ancaster, ON, was a highly sought after player that was recruited by Rhode Island, Kent State, and Duquesne of the NCAA. An all-around athlete, Hutcheson has many accomplishments over her high school career including MVP & team captain of her high school team, top female athlete of her school twice, numerous MVPs of tournaments and elite camps, named to the Hamilton Region All-Star Team 3 times, provincial championship MVP, named to the All-Canada Top 20 Prospect Camp, was a member of the Nike Canada Center for Performance, and made the Ontario Provincial Team twice – including the 2009 Canada Games Team. Besides her prowess in basketball, Jamie also excelled in soccer, track & field where she was the city champion in Javelin and shot put.

Kreiner feels Hutcheson will provide an immediate impact, “Jamie can play right away at the CIS level and will provide us with scoring and toughness. She has a great basketball IQ and has a lot of experience playing with the best and being coached by the best in this country. Jamie’s outlook on life is extremely refreshing and I am looking forward to working with her next season.”

5’8 Guard Alex Riddle of St. Catharines, ON was co-captain of her A.N. Myer high school team the last 2 seasons and was also selected to the regional All-Star Team twice. Alex was also chosen as the player of the game in 2010, which was made up of the top 10 players in the region. Alex’s high school team has had back-to-back undefeated regular seasons and won their zone in 2009 & 2010.

Kreiner says Alex will provide much needed outside shooting. “Alex is a very good three point shooter. She is a hard worker with a great attitude and understands team play. She will take some time to adjust to the next level but has the ability to learn quickly.”

6’0 Post Laura Cooper of Thunder Bay, ON is the only local recruit for the 2011/2012 season. She captained the undefeated St. Ignatius Falcons out of Thunder Bay. Her team won two games at AA OFSAA this year won the Lakehead Tournament.

“Since my first Thunderwolves basketball camp at the age of 11, it was a goal of mine to play varsity basketball”, she said. “After 7 years of camps, club teams, high school teams and hard work, I have fulfilled this goal. I’m very excited to be a member of the Thunderwolves program, and looking forward to working with the players and coaches to develop my game.”

“Laura has a great deal of potential and upside as a solid 6’0 post. She will redshirt for us this year as she has a lot to work on to play at the next level. With hard work, Laura will be a solid player in the years to come,” Krenier said.