Co-captain of the women’s basketball team Jessica Patenaude was named a second team all-conference player during the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association Basketball Championship awards banquet in Halifax Mar. 4.
Patenaude led the Tommies in almost every statistical category this season. She was the team’s top scorer, finished sixth in the conference with an average of 13 points per game, and was fifth in the ACAA in blocks with 14.
Patenaude said the award was a surprise she was not expecting.
“Our team was very competitive (yet) I was the one honoured,” she said. “I’m proud of the hard work we put in, it paid off this year.”
Some of the greatest strengths the Tommies had this year Patenaude said was moving the ball well, talking on defense, and having great shooters on the team.
“Also teamwork because we are great friends off the court and our chemistry was coming together after the second semester,” she said.
Last year she felt the team had a better array of players and found it difficult to compete and stand out as a prominent individual on the court then. Patenaude feels this season was a big building year for her and has seen improvement in herself.
“We all improved as a team that helped me improve as well. (I) hope to do the same next year,” Patenaude said.
According to Patenaude, the women’s basketball team plans to turn the program on its head this fall. She said they plan to incorporate off court exercising and working out.
“I plan on working really hard off the court,” she said. “We have such a young team, girls coming from high school who aren’t used to working out.”
“Our coach said “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard,”” she said.
“We’re proud of Jessica for representing our university,” said Coach Fred Connors. “We’re excited that she’s receiving this reward for not only her work, but for the work of the team over the course of the year.”
Patenaude knew her team would make it to the ACAA championships this year.
“I’m glad we got to experience it together and the rookies got to see it in that aspect. It’s an honour to me, glad to be top six,” she said.
High emotions and not having home court advantage were some contributing factors to why they were beat out of the ACAA semi-finals said Patenaude.
“We didn’t work as hard as we could have, but they’re a hard working team,” she said. “Half our team was accustomed to how we played last year.
“The league was very competitive this year. Our team is new and rebuilding while the others are older teams,” said Patenaude.
“Fred is putting in new changes so when we go back,” she said. “Were going to work hard and get a better outcome.”
The Tommies have great rookies joining the team this year said Patenaude.
“We’re going to except our rookies with open arms,” she said.
The Tommies started the season as a young team. They lost their whole starting lineup from last year.
“We tried our best, picked it up toward the end of the season. I think we’re going to do a lot better (this fall),” said Patenaude.
She believes the Tommies are going to surprise some people nest year.
“We’re going to leave every game knowing we did the best we could. Be the team that nobody can say we never worked hard,” she said. “We are going to go into the playoffs feared, knowing we can give them a run for their money.”
Patenaude first started playing basketball in grade seven. She remembers being nervous the first time stepping on court for a game.
“I got a breakaway but dropped the ball and it bounced off my feet. I got down on my hands and knees to get the ball and the coach put his hands over his eyes,” she said.
But since her high school varsity days and she has won multiple awards since; two MVP awards, Female Athlete of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Player of the year, and now ACAA second team all-conference player.
After graduating university Patenaude plans to coach basketball players and support high school teams back home.
“I owe it to come back and support the people that made me who I am,” she said.
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