Veronika Lavergne trades in NCAA for Gaels

Tall expectations for 6'4" new recruit

After one year at UAlbany, Lavergne will suit up for the Gaels next season.
After one year at UAlbany, Lavergne will suit up for the Gaels next season.
Credit: 
Supplied by Jason Scource

It doesn’t often happen that a team gets a second chance on a recruit  — but in the case of the Queen’s women’s basketball team, they’re pretty happy they did.

Earlier this month, Queen’s announced the signing of 6’4” post Veronika Lavergne — a player they originally tried to recruit out of high school who later opted to go to University at Albany (UAlbany) in the United States.

In her time on the NCAA Division 1 team, Lavergne saw limited action, playing in only the first 12 games of the season, averaging just over 10 minutes per contest, with 2.0 points and 1.5 rebounds per game.

Queen’s assistant coach James Bambury believes that the “cut-throat” NCAA experience was difficult on Lavergne, who dropped out of UAlbany in February.

“People’s jobs are on the line, people’s scholarships are potentially on the line, playing time is on the line and that tends to be held over everyone involved so there’s a lot more tension for individuals to perform than just the team,” he said.

Prior to signing with Queen’s, Lavergne stayed at home in Ottawa, helping out with her old competitive basketball team and training with a former coach of hers.

When she wasn’t in Ottawa, Lavergne would do the two-hour drive from Ottawa to Kingston, where she watched the Gaels play and practice.

With a wingspan of 6’7”, Lavergne’s physical attributes present the Gaels with a new opportunity to dominate the court this season, said Bambury.

“Those extra three inches [in height] and four or five inches in wingspan really create size matchups that no one we’ve had in the past five years has been able to create,” Bambury said. 

Lavergne will also be bringing some important qualities to the team, separate from her stature. 

“She’s  a unique kid in generaland a unique player on the court. She’s got very good hands for her size, and she’s honestly a sponge, she’s constantly learning”.

For Lavergne, strong recruiting trips by Queen’s while she was in high school made a lasting impression. When it came time to pick a new school, she looked back on those meetings. 

“I remember the team was so welcoming and everyone was so nice … everything about the whole experience was great,” she said.

While she’ll be focused on the court, Lavergne also knows she is gaining a valuable education. 

“Academics have always been a big part of my life because it’s hard to get anywhere without an education and I really like learning, so Queen’s is a great place,” Lavergne said.

While her stats at UAlbany don’t speak volumes about her success there, Lavergne believes she has taken a lot away from her one year at the NCAA level.

“I’m probably a lot more aggressive than I was and I am a lot more strong, physically and mentally. I’m a lot more balanced as a player.”

While Lavergne is excited about the upcoming season, there are some nerves associated with joining a new team as well. 

The chemistry between a team’s players is often a factor in their success, a fact that Lavergne readily acknowledges.

“Chemistry is a big part of winning so with new faces this year it will be interesting to see how we blend as a team, but I think we will be able to,” Lavergne said.

While the season doesn’t officially start till October, Lavergne is excited to hit the ground running. 

She joins guard Bridget Mulholland — a prized local recruit who turned down the NCAA for Queen’s — as well as a veteran core group of players to help Queen’s get back into CIS contention. 

“I can’t wait to compete against all the other teams in the OUA because we are going to have a really strong group of girls coming back this year.”

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