Two newly painted black, white and red Lions’ heads sit at the doors of the Tait McKenzie Centre gym. They are a new addition for the new season of women’s basketball and all the excitement that is sure to follow this year.“This year our returning players are more prepared for the vigour of a Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) season, and more prepared for the challenges. I see a mass improvement in their fitness level as well as their ability to compete,” said head coach Bill Pangos.
Pangos is in his 25th season with the program and has seen success and failure in all. Last year, the York Lions were unable to secure a spot in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) playoffs, but Pangos believes this year is different.
The team welcomes three newcomers to the team, all of whom Pangos had a hand in recruiting himself: Llyandra Kerr, Courtney Osborne and Lexie Sananes. The forwards are ready to be a part of a growing team, they say, and hope they can be the change the York Lions need.
“It feels great [to be on the team],” said Osborne. “This is what I always wanted to do, it is great to reach this goal. I love York and the coaching staff are all supportive.”
The team ranked very low in rebounding last season, and Pangos sees these newcomers helping the team turn the rebounding aspect around.
“It is a more positive outlook in terms of competing in our east division and challenging for a playoff spot,” said Pangos. His optimism comes from the improvement he sees in the returning players who have trained very hard in the off season. Nadia Qahwash, who was part of the league’s all rookie team last year, has been a consistent player throughout. Her teammate Brittany Szockyj, who was the team’s leading scorer and a recognized OUA point leader, will be finishing her fourth-year on the team.
“What we see this year is a maturity of the players,” said Pangos. “A period of learning on the fly so to speak and learning as they go. What we have to focus on is turn-overs this year and we are applying more pressure tactics this year.”