Gaels coach plays camp host

Always the thinker, Wilson analyzes the floor in a Team Canada exhibition.
Always the thinker, Wilson analyzes the floor in a Team Canada exhibition.
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Anyone working in the Phys. Ed. Centre this summer knows all about heat, especially Dave Wilson.

The Gaels women’s basketball coach isn’t smoldering from the building’s muggy climate though. He’s riding a hot streak that started four months ago.

After capturing the OUA championships in March, Wilson was hired for a two-year term as the female national team’s assistant coach. He then helped convince the national program to use Queen’s for their summer mega-camp, currently taking place in the shirt-soaking humidity of the University’s athletic complex.

“It’s been terrific,” Wilson said while observing a camp scrimmage at Bartlett Gymnasium on Sunday. Wilson is one of 18 coaches working with the 34 players, a talented group whose experience ranges from the professional leagues to the high school court. “I’ve always wanted the opportunity to work with other coaches,” he said.

“The problem is our seasons are all at the same time.”

The camp is set up to prepare the players for three different tournaments. The youngest third of the women are competing in July’s World Youth Francophone Games in Ottawa, while the collegiate-level players are gelling for the World University Games held in China in August.

Also in the mix are the best of the best, the senior women’s team members who represent Canada at the Olympics and world championships. It is these elite players who are under Wilson’s wing, a responsibility he is more than ready for, said national head coach Bev Smith.

“We’re really excited to have him on board,” Smith said, prior to an exhibition victory over a touring Japanese professional team. “He brings a technical mind and defensive knowledge and experience. Hopefully that will be his niche with our team.”

Unfortunately, the Gaels’ bench boss couldn’t use his newly acquired muscle to squeeze some of his own into the program.

Queen’s standouts Jen Jackson and Jaqueline Beaudoin made separate appearances at two different open camps, but weren’t able to land a spot in the camp.

“Jaqueline’s a very talented player,” said Smith.

“But she is a small player, even though she plays big.

However, said Smith, Beaudoin’s size makes play a lot more difficult at the World University level of play.

Genetics came up short for Jackson too, explained Wilson, who admitted he was torn over the decisions.

“Jenny had a good tryout. She’s an undersized post for sure though. She’s not even quite 5’10”,” he said.

And though they’re enemies during the regular season, Wilson said he’s enjoyed helping and getting to know other CIAU stars who made the grade, such as McMaster’s Dani Everitt.

Everitt’s last memory of Queen’s is losing to them in the OUA finals in Hamilton last year. Now that Ban Righ Hall has become her home for the last week-and-a-half, she’s finding it hard to shake the reminder.

“You had to bring that up, didn’t you,” joked Everitt when asked about the Gaels’ second-half comeback that knocked off her Marauders.

“I’ve never actually played in [Bartlett] before, but the loss definitely did come to mind when I first heard about the tryout,” said the three-time OUA all-star.

Helping players such as Everitt improve their game might come back to haunt Wilson in the winter, but he’s willing to make a sacrifice for the common good, he said.

“I want Canada to do well,” Wilson said.

“They’re keen to learn and keen to play. [Their affiliation] doesn’t phase me at all.”

The senior women were thrilled about their newest member.

Dianne Norman, a long-time national player who used to play professionally in Spain, called Wilson “outstanding.” “He’s innovative. It’s nice to have a fresh face in the program,” said Norman.

The next stop for Norman, Wilson and the rest of the senior women’s team is Sao Luis, Brazil in September, where they will attempt to qulaify for 2002 World Championships.

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