Through the athlete’s eyes: Lireesa Gokhool-Jefferson on Women’s Basketball

Gaels found success this weekend—and all season  

The Gaels line up before a game.
Queen’s was victorious over Lakehead and York this weekend while celebrating their graduating seniors. In true Queen’s Women’s Basketball fashion, they played as a team and relied on consistent work ethic and communication to earn the win.
As a second-year guard on the Queen’s Women’s Basketball team, I have had the opportunity to watch and experience the work ethic and chemistry of this team; it’s truly unmatched. Being on a team of such genuine and supportive players and coaches is a joy. 
As one of the first Black females to be part of the Queens Women’s basketball team, I strive to use my platform to break stereotypes and educate others on the Black Canadian experience. I strive to be the best teammate I can be and I want to leave a lasting impact on the program. Here’s a look at this weekend through my perspective as a player. 
On Sunday, Feb. 12, we travelled to play the York Lions. Coming into this game, we knew it was going to be physical, but the Gaels are always up for the challenge. 
Even before tipoff at half-court we were ready. As an injured player right now, I make sure to provide positive energy on and off the court no matter what, especially in the locker room when we have our pre-game hype session. 
Despite not being able to play due to my injury, I know energy is contagious. I make a conscious effort to reinforce our goals for the game, echo our plays, and make sure we are all connected on the bench cheering. 
Before the game, we came up with three main focuses for York: to be the aggressors, remain disciplined, and rebound the basketball. 
When we started to play, however, there was lots of back and forth between the teams. The score was close, but my team was ready for the challenge. We stayed united, kept our composure during the entire game, and celebrated every basket along the way. 
The York Lions repeatedly crawled back into the game, tying almost every quarter. Once it was halftime and we made our way to the locker room, we talked as a team for a bit before the coaches came in. They told us this game was going to continue to be physical, but we’d come out with the win if we stuck to our game plan and focused on defense. We put our fists together and yelled “Gaels on three—1, 2, 3, GAELS!” and went into the second half with our game faces on, even hungrier to win the game. 
I feel we played with tenacity, grit, and resilience on Sunday afternoon. Adversity was thrown at us, but we faced it head-on as a team. 
One phrase I came up with last year for our team was “all gas no brakes,” and it’s now a saying we use all the time to keep our foot on the pedal until the buzzer goes off. 
When the buzzer went on Sunday afternoon, our hard work had paid off: we beat the Lions 74-68. 
I am thankful to have such an amazing coaching staff and teammates who support each other and embrace each other’s differences. Go Gaels Go! 

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