Taylor Ward looks to pass the ball Saturday. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
The two Westman players on the Dakota College at Bottineau women’s basketball team have a pretty close relationship, even though they’re taking their playing careers in different directions.
Josie DeGagne, a Crocus Plains alumnus in her second season at Dakota College, played a huge role in bringing Elton Collegiate graduate Taylor Ward to the North Dakota junior college after telling Ward all about the basketball team and the campus life. She has also helped Ward adjust to life in university and being away from home for the first time, which the 5-foot-6 guard is enjoying.
"It’s been good so far," Ward said. "I’m excited to play some of the better colleges in the States and see what it’s like down there."
Ward will continue to look to DeGagne, as well as the coaching staff, to improve her game on the court and work towards her psychology degree. She knows playing tougher teams than she faced last season with the Elton Sabres will improve her game as well.
Ward is soaking up the experience in practice and in the team’s first exhibition games on the weekend against the Brandon University Bobcats at the Healthy Living Centre.
Five of the 12 players on the basketball team are also on the Ladyjacks volleyball team — including DeGagne — which means they won’t fully join the basketball team until the volleyball season ends. That meant a lot of playing time at a number of positions for Ward during Saturday’s exhibition game.
Ward thinks it’s a big advantage for her to know both the wing and post positions and hopes it’s something that will help her crack the starting lineup late this season or next year.
"It’s really valuable," she said. "It will help me when (the volleyball players) come to play (basketball) because I’ll be able to go in and know the positions. I’ve been playing both the wing and post, so that’s an advantage for me to know all the spots on the floor."
For her part, DeGagne is one of the five players on both the volleyball and basketball teams and is more focused on volleyball right now.
When she makes the flip to basketball, she’s planning on being a leader on the team and helping the Ladyjacks go as far as they can this season, especially since she has decided this will be her last season playing university sports. DeGagne will have a two-year degree in special education after the school year ends and she’s anxious to enter the workforce.
Knowing this is her final year at Dakota College, she wants to end her career on a high note.
"We definitely expect to do a lot better than last year because last year we were an all-freshman team and we have five sophomores coming back," she said. "So there will be more chemistry and we’ll know what to expect. … I hope to (lead them this season). I’ll just try to do my best to help them out on the floor."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 23, 2012