On a varsity girls basketball team that doesn’t have any real stars on it, Tara VanCauwenberghe has proven to be a big difference-maker for the Vincent Massey Vikings.
This is the third season that the 5-foot-10 forward has been on Massey’s varsity squad and she brings a lot to the court. She has a big wing span and a height advantage that makes her a force under the basket as a scorer and a rebounder.
Her experience, however, is what makes the 18-year-old Grade 12 student special in the eyes of her head coach Brett Nohr.
"I don’t see it as a player on our team, I see it as a player on our school and for our community as a whole," Nohr said.
"When we go places, she does everything she’s supposed to do. She exudes confidence but she’s also very humble. She’s a great teammate, but she’s also a great competitor because she’s the first person to pick the other team up when they fall down."
It’s not just one the court where VanCauwenberghe has proven to be a leader. She’s in band, is the captain of her midget house league hockey team, coaches a Timbit hockey team and is a member of Massey’s student council.
While VanCauwenberghe doesn’t hold an executive position on council, she is the sports representative and has organized pep rallies for the high school’s football and volleyball teams.
She’s planning one for her own squad as it prepares for the first two games of the Brandon High School Basketball League’s varsity girls final today and Thursday.
The Vikings will also take on the Garden Valley Zodiacs, whom they defeated to close out last weekend’s Triple Crown Zone Challenge basketball tournament, in an interzone game on Friday as they try to qualify for the AAAA provincials.
For VanCauwenberghe, being on council is a way to instil school spirit in her fellow students and hopes to share her passion with others.
"I just like to plan events and have really good school spirit and see everyone have fun," she said. "I just try to get everyone involved to see that they can come out and support us and all the groups and activities that we have."
VanCauwenberghe isn’t sure how much an impact sports will have on her future, but she hopes to get involved in student council events when she attends Brandon University next year to study physical education before going into education.
Whatever she decides, Nohr is convinced that VanCauwenberghe has a bright future ahead of her.
"I say she’s the type of girl who will look after me when I’m old and can’t do anything," he said. "That’s just the type of person that she’ll be."