British Columbia has been a basketball hotbed the Brandon University Bobcats women’s basketball team has struggled to tap for talent for the last few years, but there’s hope that drought has come to an end.
Elsa Langill became the first B.C. native to join the Bobcats in a long time and she’s hoping that will start a trend of bringing talented west coasters to the Prairies.
"Hopefully I can just show that B.C., players can try out out here as well, we don’t just have to go to Vancouver schools," the 18-year-old Kamloops native said. "Most players in B.C. look to UBC and UVic as options, but there are other places you can go to be a basketball player as well and help out a team. There’s a little pressure to try to perform and make people see this is a good place to come."
Langill’s arrival in Brandon is credited to the contacts of new head coach Novell Thomas. Thomas, who moved to Brandon from B.C., learned about Langill from former Canadian national team head coach Ken Olynyk and was happy to sign the 5-foot-11 forward.
Thomas is excited about what the first-year business and administration major can bring to the team, and not just because she’s from B.C.
"What I am happy about is having a player come in who can help us out right away," he said. "That’s probably most important regardless of where they’re from. I do have a lot of basketball connections in B.C., and she was brought to my attention from a colleague out there and hopefully that will continue, especially if the player’s a calibre player. We will appreciate and value the people who are directed toward our program."
While Langill is excited to be in Brandon, she’s had a bit of a rough start to her career with the Bobcats.
She was diagnosed with mononucleosis and didn’t leave the hospital until two weeks ago. She went for a six-kilometre run before camp opened to "ease back into things" and feels she’s starting to get back to the fitness level she wants to be at.
Part of that is due to the hard sessions Thomas has been running during the team’s first two weeks of training camp.
"It’s been pretty tough, I’m not going to lie," she said. "The first week of training camp we were all icing every day and could barely walk the next day. Novell’s working us hard, but it will be worth it in the end for sure."
It’s that mental toughness that Thomas loves about Langill as well as her desire to get better as training camp and the season goes on.
"She has a basketball mind," he said. "… We’d like to see her continue to develop and get stronger. Coming out of high school, it’s very hard to be physically strong enough to compete at this level. That’s been a focus and will be a focus for her. The basketball side and skill side of it, she’ll do fine. It’s just a matter of getting quicker and stronger and being able to battle with girls who are five or six years older than her."
BU WOMEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM
Name Pos. Year Ht. Hometown
Brittany Boudreau G 1 5-7 Winnipeg
Kaela Cranston G/F 2 5-11 Winnipeg
Sarah Dobie G 2 5-8 Winnipeg
Chantel Gaslard F 4 6-2 Thompson
Jaynell Gillett F 4 6-1 Bonnyville, Alta.
Stephanie Haynes G 2 5-7 Lorette
Aimee Johnston F 2 6-1 Brandon
Alanna Johnston F 3 5-11 Brandon
Carrera Lamoureux G 3 5-6 Winnipeg
Elsa Langill F 1 5-11 Kamloops, B.C.
Maegan MacKay G/F 1 5-10 Regina, Sask.
Ambrea McDonald-Okoro F 1 6-0 Regina, Sask.
Head Coach: Novell Thomas (first season)
Assistant Coach: Sarah Lopes