Maple Ridge’s Kate Head expected her first year with the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades to mirror that of most rookies: practice hard, keep your seat warm on the bench, and be ready to fill in some minutes late in blow outs.
But from the moment the Maple Ridge Rambler graduate stepped on the court this year, she proved her seat on the bench was strictly for her warm-up gear.
Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer has been so impressed with the point guard’s tenacity and drive, he’s named Head a starter for their home-opener Nov. 6 and 7 against UBC Okanagan.
Head said she was blown away when Tuchscherer told her.
“It’s insane,” said Head. “In Grade 11, Al had come to me and asked me about coming to UFV. I thought I would be on the bench for most of the season, just trying to figure out my role.”
But with eight of 13 positions opened up after last year, the door was certainly opened.
Tuchscherer said Head’s demeanour and high basketball IQ helped her grab a starting role.
“She plays with a calmness and confidence about her,” said Tuchscherer, who was the head coach at Pitt Meadows secondary from 1992 to 1996 before joining the Cascades as an assistant. “We’re not asking her to go out and be a big-time scorer right away. But she can dictate the type of offence we want to run and she doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.”
Her assist-to-turnover ratio is far beyond what Tuchscherer expected.
He said if it’s one-to-one, the coaching staff is happy with their first-year guards.
But Head has the coaching staff grinning ear-to-ear. She’s already at a two-to-one ratio. Tuchscherer said that is exceptionally impressive for a first-year player coming into the Can West conference.
The Cascades made it to four straight Canada West final fours between 2011 and 2014, and won the CIS national bronze medal in 2014.
Expectations are high every year.
None more so than the expectations Head places on herself. She said she expects some stiff competition playing against seasoned veterans who are bigger and faster than her.
“They are a lot stronger – a lot stronger than me,” she laughed. “I need to hit the gym.”
While she will be challenged physically, Head said she agrees with her head coach. It’s the mental part of the game that has helped her land her starting role.
She said playing at MRSS, she loved to control the pace of the game, slowing it down to let the offence take shape.
“A lot of players coming out of high school tend to do their own thing, just rush up the court and shoot. But for me, not playing such a fast paced game really translated well to university.”
Head did say while she may have a calm demeanour on the outside, she can be her own worst enemy when it comes to critiquing her own game. She said her competitive nature and overwhelming desire to win can cloud her thoughts when she makes a turnover or misses a shot.
“I’m really hard on myself so when I make a mistake, it can negatively impact my game,” said Head.
Tuchscherer said he’s not worried about that part of her game. Mistakes happen, especially for young players. He said Head’s grit and smarts set her up for what should be a great university experience.
“She’s worked her way into the starting rotation, and that’s not easy for a rookie to come in and play point guard, it’s one of the tougher positions. She’s really made a name for herself .”