Q&A with the women’s basketball team

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The Ryerson women’s basketball team competed in its first ever Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Final 8 in Quebec City from March 12 to 15, where they finished sixth. Sports editor Josh Beneteau talked to Rams coach Carly Clarke, rookie point-guard Cara Tiemens and graduating forward Annie Sokoloff while they were waiting in the airport to ask about their first Final 8 experience

Carly Clarke

Q: Has it sunk in yet that this season is the best ever for the program?

CC: Yes and no. You just get so engulfed in the moment and we have been so focused on the process and just preparing for every game. I think I’ve said a couple times, it feels a little surreal how successful we’ve been but not surprising based on the hard work that the athletes have put in. So now that our season’s over I think it’s starting to sink in a little more [that], “wow we’ve accomplished some pretty cool things this year.”

Q: Right from the beginning of the season there seemed to be a different hype around this team. Did you notice this too around the start of the season?

CC: I don’t think I thought of results, but I knew we were starting to put together a group of girls that were pretty special individually and they could be pretty special as a team. So I certainly felt that and felt that we had some pretty good pieces so it’s just been fun to watch it all come together.

Q: The team got your first win at nationals against St. Mary’s. That must have been a pretty exciting moment.

CC: Yeah it definitely was. As much as we believed [that we could win] on Thursday, on Friday we were a little more relaxed, a little more comfortable with the environment, you could see our play just be a little bit sharper. And it was nice to come away with the win for sure.

Q: So to be able to say you were sixth out of eight at nationals, what does that mean for the experience and development of the group coming back next year?

CC: Well I think we talked about it and looked at it a couple different ways. Not only are we six out of eight, we’re sixth out of 47 in the country which is a pretty special accomplishment when you think about it. So we’re certainly celebrating that and the success this season. We also played three teams that have consistently been at this tournament the last five or six years.

Q: Can you talk about the team more off the court? Have you been bonding, with all the winning and the travelling you’ve been doing?

Annie Sokoloff

CC: Yeah it’s definitely been a blast. I’ve enjoyed this team on and off the court all season. We travelled to New Brunswick to kickoff our year and that was a great team builder. And the girls just really enjoy being with each other. There are lots of laughs, I have some great laughs with them. And they’re really fun to be around, they’re really great people and that makes the experience that much more special.

Q: You’re graduating and in your final year you got to experience the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) finals and the CIS finals. How awesome was that?

AS: I think it had more weight for me because it’s been five years in the making. This is kind of what you dream of each year and so to make it in my fifth year was kind of the cherry on top.

Q: At the start of the season did you think it was possible with this group?

AS: I think I was a little bit skeptical at the beginning but once we started winning games and once we started practicing together, I definitely knew it was possible. I think the moment I realized was we went out east for our tournament. That was the moment where I went, “wow we’re a really good team.” So I think that was when I definitely believed that we could make it to nationals.

Q: So what was different this year than the other four years you were here?

AS: I guess the dynamics of the team. And the belief. We just had all the pieces and I think everything just came together. With the addition of the rookies and the experienced vets, I think we just had all the pieces that we may have been lacking in other years.

Q: Coming in as a rookie and new to the team, did you realize this season was going to be this special right from the beginning?

CT: I definitely thought it was going to be a special season. Carly always said from the beginning that

Cara Tiemens

Q: Coming in as a rookie and new to the team, did you realize this season was going to be this special right from the beginning?

CT: I definitely thought it was going to be a special season. Carly always said from the beginning that we could be a nationally-ranked team and we had a chance to win a national championship, so to make it this far definitely feels more special than just talking about it. But overall it was a great experience and probably one of the best that I’ll ever have in my life.

Q: What was it like going into the first game against the University of British Columbia?

CT: Yeah, definitely nervous. Especially as a rookie, I had never been on this big of a stage before so I was definitely nervous for that. But nerves are going to come and go, but as soon as you get started, as soon as the first play happens then the nerves disappear and you just kind of ease into it. So yeah, I was nervous but my teammates were really supportive and they have a lot of experience so they helped me through it.

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