New recruits present new hope

Rookies bring about the dawn of a new age for sports for the Queen’s Golden Gaels

Men’s football will be looking to go all the way this year with the inclusion of fresh talent.
Men’s football will be looking to go all the way this year with the inclusion of fresh talent.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo
Kristin Smith, formerly of the Etobicoke Dolphins, will join the Queen’s Golden Gaels women’s hockey this fall.
Kristin Smith, formerly of the Etobicoke Dolphins, will join the Queen’s Golden Gaels women’s hockey this fall.
Credit: 
Supplied

Strength in numbers is the theme of many of this years rookie classes. Here’s a look at some of the most promising additions to this year’s rosters.

Women’s Soccer

For many interuniversity programs, a strong crop of recruits can make a big difference.

Women’s soccer coach Dave McDowell hopes his will be one such program. The team finished second in Canada two years ago but crashed out of the playoffs in the first round last year.

McDowell said he’s bringing in a lot of new recruits, and he has high expectations for them.

“We have a big class coming in,” he said. “It has a chance, based on potential, to be our best class ever.”

McDowell said he expects several of the players to make immediate contributions to the team’s on-field success.

“I think a good number of our rookies will make an impact right away,” he said. “The top six or seven are all really good prospects.”

The team is already better on paper than last year’s edition with this new crop of recruits, McDowell said.

“We’re faster, we’re more athletic, we’re more skillful and we’re deeper,” he said.

McDowell said one of his key recruits is defender Brienna Shaw from B.C., who has played with the Vancouver Whitecaps Prospects and the B.C. provincial team.

“[Whitecaps women head coach] Bob Birada speaks very highly of her,” McDowell said. “He said she’s one of the best tacklers he’s ever seen. ... She’s everything we’ve wanted in a defender.”

Men’s Volleyball

The men’s volleyball team, OUA silver medalists last season, also enjoyed a strong recruiting off-season, bringing in six new players, including five who played on 18U provincial teams this summer.

Head coach Brenda Willis said in an e-mail, that bringing in a deep pool of recruits was vital, given that the team lost four athletes to graduation.

“We might have been competitive without them, but without a challenging environment in practice and someone on your heels challenging you and trying to take your spot every day, it is way too easy to get comfortable and ultimately complacent,” she said. “This class ensures that this won’t happen because each of [the recruits] is good enough to do exactly that: challenge [the veterans] and threaten to take their spot day after day.”

Willis said one of her top recruits is setter Jackson Dakin from Courtenay, B.C.

“He brings good size to the position, and I was impressed with [his] ability to change the speed of his set once he saw how we played,” she said. “I look forward to having [Dan] Rosenbaum and Dakin as our two setters. As a combo, they will give us one of the best quarterbacking situations in the country.”

Men’s Football

Men’s football head coach Pat Sheahan said he’s expecting a bigger than usual recruiting class, with about 35 to 40 new players expected to attend training camp.

Sheahan said he expects some of the rookies to play key roles this coming season, while others are longer-term prospects.

“We definitely got some great kids, some who may be able to contribute in year one and some who may be stars of the future,” he said. “There’s some reason to be optimistic.”

He said one of his star recruits is running back Ryan Crenberg.

“He is reputed to be one of the best running backs coming out of Alberta this year,” he said.

Men’s Hockey

Men’s hockey Head Coach Brett Gibson said he’s also bringing in a larger crop of recruits than normal and expects to have at least 10 first-year players in training camp.

“We’re building a good nucleus going forward,” he said.

Gibson said he thinks the team chemistry will be strong despite the many new faces.

“You’re not necessarily looking for the best players all of the time, you’re looking for the right fits,” he said.

Gibson said he’s excited to have such a large crop of rookies, but their lack of CIS experience is a concern.

“We have more talent than we’ve ever had but we don’t have the experience,” he said. “We’re in for a challenging year.” Gibson said one of his top recruits is Scott Kenway, who comes to the Gaels from the Olds Grizzlies of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

“He got better as the year went on,” Gibson said. “He started as a checking centre, then got named assistant captain, then got moved to the first line.”

Men’s Basketball

The men’s basketball team has announced six recruits so far. Head coach Rob Smart said he was happy with the recruiting class he was able to get.

“We’ve gotten bigger, stronger and more mobile this year,” he said.

Smart said one of his key recruits is 6’7’’ Oliver Friesen from Surrey, B.C., who only recently turned to basketball from lacrosse.

“He’s sort of a kid who didn’t start playing basketball seriously until a couple years ago,” Smart said. “Probably until this year, nobody had really heard about him. He’s just a big, strong, active kid.”

Women’s Volleyball

The women’s volleyball team, which had six first- or second-year players last season, continued the youth movement this year with six new recruits.

Head Coach Joely Christian said in an e-mail the new recruits should help the team this year, but the real goal is success down the road.

“The goal of the program is long-term,” she said. “I feel that this group of players, even with their youth, can bring Queen’s a level of consistent success that has often eluded the women’s program.”

Christian said one of her top recruits is setter Kristin Collins, who transferred to Queen’s from the University of Mary, a NCAA Division II school in South Dakota.

“She’s a good setter, she takes the ball with a nice high contact and places the ball across the offensive positions along the net very well,” Christian said.

Men’s Rugby

The men’s rugby team brought in one of this year’s largest crops of recruits in what Head Coach Peter Huigenbos described as a “record year,” with over 40 recruits confirmed thus far. Some of those recruits will start on the three development teams and try to work their way up to the varsity squad, but Huigenbos said their contributions shouldn’t be underestimated.

“All new recruits contribute to the varsity team, because each of the three development teams have players who will play for the varsity team in the future,” he said in an e-mail.

Huigenbos said one of his top recruits is Brantford Collegiate Institute scrum-half Andrew Kirk.

“His understanding of the game is a special talent at his age, which makes him a versatile player with a lot of potential.”

Meet some of the new Gaels

Meet some of the new Gaels

Recruit: Scott Kenway

Team: Men’s hockey

Position: Centre.

Hometown: Calgary, AB

Experience: Provincial Junior A hockey with the Olds Grizzlies

What brought him here: Scott’s brother and cousin both attended Queen’s, so he said in an interview, “I’d definitely thought about it growing up.” He had an opportunity to play Division III NCAA hockey, but turned it down. “I really felt I could get the best education in Canada.”

His best skill: Defence: “Throughout junior, I played against the opponent’s top line and on the penalty kill. It’s kind of an unsung hero kind of role, but if you want to win, you’ve got to be respectable defensively.”

Coach’s comment: “Scott Kenway is going to be a very good player. I compare him to Jon Lawrance last year. ... He’s a two-way player that, in the right setting, can produce more than he’s used to. I’m actually thinking of putting Scott on the first or second line, throwing him to the wolves and seeing what he can do.” – Brett Gibson, head coach Men’s hockey

Recruit: Susan Heald

Team: Women’s rugby

Position: Scrum-half

Hometown: Burlington, ON

Experience: Has played for U17 Ontario team and U19 and U20 national teams

What brought her here: “Academics and the rugby program. I also know Beth [Barz] and she is a great coach.”

Her best skill: “Persistence and competitiveness.”

Coach’s comment: “Her leadership, dedication and tenacity on the field will fit into our team and system seamlessly. Susan’s game sense is her best feature. She can spin the ball wide, which is valuable in rugby since it creates space in which to attack. She also reads the play well and puts her teammates into space. Defensively, she can be counted on to make the big tackle when necessary.” – Beth Barz, head coach Women’s rugby

Recruit: Kristin Smith

Team: Women’s hockey

Position: Forward

Hometown: Etobicoke, ON

Experience: Has played in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League with the Etobicoke Junior Dolphins. Was named one of the Toronto Star’s high school athletes of the year this season for her play for St. Basil The Great’s ice hockey, field hockey and soccer teams.

What brought her here: “It was the whole atmosphere of the school, and the hockey program. I met some of the girls, and they were great.”

Her best skill: “One-on-one battles.”

Coach’s comment: “She’s got very good hands, good vision. My feeling is that she can come in and instantly make our third- and fourth-year players better.” – Harold Parsons, head coach Women’s hockey

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­­­Andrew Bucholtz

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