Capital Women's Circuit Ready to Begin Play April 29

 Four teams will begin play April 29 in the newly-formed Under Armour Riverview Ford Fredericton Women’s Basketball League.

 Each team will play a six-game regular season followed by two rounds of playoffs.

 Entrants are Fredericton Wildcats, Freddy Beach Ravens, River City Titans and Capital Reds.

 There is no admission at the door for the games which are open to the public.

 The following is the schedule (times, locations subject to change)

Monday, April 29 (RJCC Rec Gym 1)

7 p.m. – Reds v Titans

8:30 p.m. – Wildcats v Ravens

Sunday, May 5 (RJCC Rec Gym 1)

7 p.m. – Wildcats v Reds

8:30 p.m. – Ravens v Titans

Tuesday, May 7 (RJCC Rec Gym 1)

7 p.m. – Titans v Wildcats

8:30 p.m. – Reds v Ravens

Sunday, May 12 (Bliss Carman)**

4 p.m. - Ravens v Wildcats

5:15 p.m. – Titans v Reds

OFF VICTORIA DAY WEEKEND

Tuesday, May 21 (RJCC Rec Gym 1)

7 p.m. – Titans v Ravens

8:30 p.m. – Reds v Wildcats

Sunday, May 26 (RJCC Rec Gym 1)

7 p.m. – Ravens v Reds

8:30 p.m. – Wildcats v Titans

Tuesday, May 28 (BLISS CARMAN)

SEMIFINALS

7:30 p.m. – Semifinal 1 v 3

9 p.m. – Semifinal 2 v 4

Thursday, May 30 (BLISS CARMAN)

FINAL/CONSOLATION

7:30 p.m. – Consolation

9 p.m. – Championship

 **Note early times on May 12

Ravens Release Roster For Initial Foray Into FWBL

It was basketball, but it wasn’t the basketball Kathleen Johnson and some of her teammates were looking for.

 Playing in a local co-ed league against men meant there were some good workouts, but Johnson and her crew of long-time teammates jumped at the chance at joining the Under Armour Riverview Ford Fredericton Women’s Basketball League.

 The league opens April 29 and will run an eight-game season including playoffs in its first year of operation.

 ‘My team was definitely on board when I mentioned joining the league,’ said Johnson, who will help guide the Freddy Beach Ravens. ‘We have a group that has played at Basketball New Brunswick intermediate women’s championships, but we were looking for other opportunities to play in a competitive setting against women. A lot of us have been restricted to co-ed games where we were outnumbered by men and using a men’s ball. It’s a completely different game, so we’re all looking forward to playing in this league and having the opportunity to play against other talented female players.’

 The Ravens join the Capital Reds, River City Titans and Fredericton Wildcats in the four-team circuit.

 Johnson will act as player/coach with the Elm City Ravens, but her veteran crew will have plenty of coaches by the time the curtain is raised.

 ‘With the amount of skill and knowledge on the team, I’m sure we’re going to be somewhat of a coach-by-committee situation,’ said Johnson. ‘We have a competitive group of women.’

 Johnson is a veteran assistant coach with the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association’s St. Thomas University Tommies. She also attended several Canada Basketball championships as an assistant coach with BNB under-15 teams.

  She will actually be playing against players she used to coach or is presently coaching with the Tommies.

 ‘I’m sure that is going to be a fun dynamic when we play against each other,’ she said. ‘It’s going to be a unique experience.’

 There are plenty of former Tommies and veteran university players on the Ravens, who won BNB’s intermediate championship this spring in a five-team field.

 Johnson has former Tommies Taylor Forsythe, Katelynn Carver, Lindy MacDonald, Ashley Bawn, Amy Andow and Jessica Patenaude on the roster. Brittany Savoy, who played with Moncton’s Crandall University Chargers and Charlottetown’s Holland College Hurricanes, joins former Mount Allison University Mountie Mackenzie Leger. Melissa Gottschall played 64 U SPORTS teams with St. Francis Xavier University X-Women, Acadia University Axewomen and University of New Brunswick Reds joins former Oromocto High Blue Ashley Shannon on the roster.

 The City of Fredericton is full of present, future and former U SPORTS and Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association and interscholastic players.

 Johnson said it made sense to find a local circuit.

 ‘There hasn’t been a consistent venue for women to play competitive in Fredericton in a few years, so it makes sense there would be a high level of interest with all the players in the city,’ she said. ‘Judging by some of the rosters, there is going to be a high level of skill and basketball IQ on display. The majority of players are bringing a high-level of experience. It should make for exciting games.’

 Johnson spent four seasons as a player with the Tommies, from 2009 to 2013. Three of those seasons saw the Tommies go undefeated, winning three straight ACAA titles from 2011 to 2013.

 She was part of the first St. Thomas women’s team to win a CCAA medal when the Tommies earned bronze in 2012-13

 Johnson likes the makeup of the FWBL and what it’s trying to accomplish.

 ‘Having four teams is an excellent start and will give the league a chance to get settled and go through a season before potential expansion,’ she said. ‘Ideally six teams would be great. More teams means more basketball and you won’t see me argue with that.’

Veteran Troika Combine With Young Squad For Titans

Former USPORTS stalwart Nicole Esson will suit up in the new FWBL this spring. (UNB Athletics Photo)

 The River City Titans, under head coach Anthony Ashe, released their roster in preparation for Under Armour Riverview Ford Fredericton Women’s Basketball League play.

The four-team league opens play April 29 and consists of a six-game regular season and two rounds of playoffs, capping with its championship May 30.

 River City joins Capital Reds, Freddy Beach Ravens and Fredericton Wildcats in the circuit.

 Ashe, the former Acadia University Axemen who has been on the staff of the Fredericton High Black Kats AAA girls’ powerhouse the past two seasons, will guide a young team with the Titans.

 There are a number of veterans on the roster, however, to create a competitive team.

 Robbi Daley will be returning to her hometown to play.

 Daley spent two seasons with the Saint Mary’s University Huskies and three with the Dalhousie University Tigers at the USPORTS level. She appeared in 98 games with the Huskies and Dalhousie and scored 780 points.

 Nicole Esson played 78 games with the University of New Brunswick Reds in her strong USPORTS career. Esson had 628 points with the Reds.

 Lainy Dow comes to the Titans after a four-year career with the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association’s St. Thomas University Tommies.

 Dow averaged 11 points a game last season for the Tommies, appearing in all 21 games. She also earned five rebounds an outing.

 The roster starts to get younger from there.

 Dow’s former teammate Kenzie Janes will be joined by a plethora of younger players Ashe is certainly familiar with, all graduating Black Kats.

 That crew includes Lucina Beaumont, Maddy Colpitts, Ali Eddy, Torrie Janes, Piper Tracy-Stewart, Sophie Trail and Eve MacDonald.

 From that group, Beaumont and Torrie Janes will be U SPORTS teammates next season with Saint Mary’s. Colpitts will play for the McGill University Martlets, Tracy-Stewart is suiting up with the ACAA’s reigning champion Mount St. Vincent University Mystics of Halifax and Trail will be with Mount Allison University Mounties of Sackville.

 All of those players were part of back-to-back New Brunswick championships with the Black Kats the past two seasons.

 Eve MacDonald, who was part of an FHS title in 2017-18 and is a soccer play with UNB, will mark a return to basketball as part of the Titans’ roster.

 River City opens the season April 29 against the Reds at 7 p.m.

 The other game pits the Wildcats against the Ravens, with both games at the Richard J. Currie Center at UNB in Recreation Gym No. 1.

Reds Roster Features Plenty of Familiar Court Names

Mikaela Dodig is the co-founder of the Fredericton Women's Basketball League. (UNB Athletics Photo)

 Mikaela Dodig is in for a busy summer.

 Nothing new, or unusual, about that.

 Dodig, the star point guard with the University of New Brunswick Reds, will be an assistant coach with the Basketball New Brunswick under-17 girls’ team, set to compete at Canada Basketball championships in British Columbia in August.

 She worked last summer for BNB as a student intern and worked the national girls’ championship when they were held in Fredericton.

 Dodig is also leading the charge for the Capital Reds of the newly-formed Under Armour Riverview Ford Fredericton Women’s Basketball League.

 The Capital contingent joins River City Titans, Freddy Beach Ravens and Fredericton Wildcats in the league.

 She is looking forward to leading a team in the league.

 ‘It’s going to be the first year for the league, but there’s been a lot of interest and people are really interested to see how all of this works out,’ said Dodig, who will be playing and managing the Capital contingent. ‘There are a lot of players in our area who may play the occasional pickup up game, but nothing that is organized.’

 Dodig is one of the founders of the league and will have some familiar faces on her team once the season starts.

 She is joined by present UNB teammates Madeline Orlando, Katie Daley, Megan Campbell and Eva Tumwine.

 Former UNB players Chelsey Collette, Grace Wade, Laura Kaye and Katelyn Mangold are putting the shoes back on. Reds’ recruits Sara Fudge of St. George’s Fundy High Mariners and Jaiden Penney of Fredericton’s Leo Hayes High Lions are also part of the squad.

 Present-day Reds Grace Simpson and Bailey Black are listed as reserves.

‘We wanted to make sure all of the teams in the league didn’t limit themselves to only a handful of players,’ she said. ‘Whether it’s work, or travel or study or whatever the reason, we don’t want to start a league where a team doesn’t have enough players. So, we’ll be making sure there is a commitment level required before we have our roster finalized.’

 The teams will play a six-game regular season followed by playoff semifinals and a championship and consolation game.

 League play opens April 29 with two games.

 The Reds will meet River City in the league’s opening game at 7 p.m. on April 29 in the Richard J. Currie Center Recreational Gym No. 1.

 You can find the FWBL schedule below in this section.

Wildcats Announce Roster in Preparation for Opener

Becca McNeil will suit up with the Fredericton Wildcats this spring. (STU Athletics Photo)

 The opportunity to create an off-season development team was launched last summer.

 It’s going to be augmented even further this spring.

 Jeff MacMullin and Fred Connors created the Fredericton Wildcats, a team made up of players from St. Thomas University Tommies, recruits awaiting to make their post-secondary debut in the fall and a couple of players not far removed from university-level ball.

 The team played some exhibition games and tournaments, but was a perfect choice to join the newly-launched Under Armour Riverview Ford Fredericton Women’s Basketball League.

 ‘Last year, Fred and I were looking for an option that would allow us to get a group of players ready to move up and help them raise their games a level,’ said MacMullin. ‘Whether it was a player moving up from junior varsity to varsity in high school or a first-year university player. We mixed them with Fred’s St. Thomas team. That allowed the younger payers to see the development and leadership skills the St. Thomas players brought to the team. Our team this year will be a mix of present Tommies and incoming recruits. It’s a great opportunity for players to get familiar with each other.’

 The Wildcats will be one of four teams in the FWBL.

 Fredericton joins the Capital Reds, Freddy Beach Ravens and River City Titans in the fray which opens April 29.

 Teams play a six-game regular season and cap it with two rounds of playoffs.

 Fredericton opens play April 29 in a game against the Ravens, an 8:30 p.m. start at Richard J. Currie Center recreational gym No. 1.

 Veteran Tommies Maddy Owens, Becca McNeil, Bridget Frazee and Christina Richardson will join plenty of players either preparing for their second seasons or coming into the fold from high school.

 Emily Owens, Vanessa Soffee and Kiandra MacMullin just finished rookie seasons in the ACAA with the Tommies.

 New recruits Bianca Hughes and Emma Connors from Fredericton’s Leo Hayes High Lions and Cassie Hemphill from John Caldwell School Golden Knights of Grand Falls are on the roster.

 Former Mount Allison University Mounties’ standout Sarah McGeachy is also part of the Wildcats. McGeachy is one year removed from being the starting point guard for Mount Allison.

 Her sister Shannon, who played university basketball in England, is also a member of the Wildcats.

The Wildcats are expected to augment FWBL play by attending tournaments or playing in some exhibition games along the way.

  ‘The FWBL was definitely a perfect match to have the Wildcats become a part of it,’ said MacMullin. ‘It allows the girls to practice their skills and play competitive games locally without the added expense of travel and hotels and all that goes with it. Many of the players are working this summer so there is less conflict being able to play locally.’

 MacMullin said the concept of the Wildcats is to imitate regular season action as much as possible.

 The coaching staff ensures all players get into the games, but there’s also a dose of reality with the program.

 ‘A player cannot develop skills sitting on the bench all the time, so we will approach league pay with the mentality everyone will see floor time,’ he said. ‘We try our best to get as close to equal time as possible, but sometimes situations change that. If someone is having an off night and can’t get on track, we want to help them through that so they learn to fight through adversity. You don’t want them getting frustrated or to lose confidence with off-season teams. It’s a competitive environment and, yes, we want to win, but skill development is our priority with the Wildcats.’

Capital Will Be Home to Four-Team Women's Circuit

The newly-formed Under Armour Fredericton Women's Basketball League opens its doors in May for a short-season. (Michael Carter Design)

The idea started last summer.

 It comes to fruition in May.

 The month-long Under Armour Riverview Ford Fredericton Women’s Basketball League will open its inaugural season in May, featuring four teams in a competitive environment.

 All four teams will play a six-game regular season leading into a semifinal playoff round and culminating with a championship game later in May.

 The idea started during a conversation at last summer’s Canada Basketball under-17 and under-15 girls’ championships in Fredericton.

 Basketball New Brunswick summer employee and present-day University of New Brunswick Reds’ star Mikaela Dodig was working out and scrimmaging with some other coaches and former players from across the country during off nights at the national tournament.

 She ended up discussing an idea with BNB president Brad Janes and an idea was born.

 ‘As a university player, we have the chance to scrimmage a bit, but there is a lot more individual work during the off-season,’ said Dodig, who will enter her fourth year with the Reds in 2019-20. ‘We are all competitive, so there was a conversation about limited competition and the next thing you know, we started making plans.’

 Those plans revolved around player availability as the number one challenge.

 With so many potential players scattering for the summer, holding down jobs or committed to other endeavours, Dodig and Janes felt May would be the best month.

 The FWBL will take the Victoria Day long weekend off, but will see Sunday games and outings through the week on Tuesday at Thursday. The league will use the Richard J. Currie Center recreational gymnasiums, Lady Beaverbrook Gymnasium and Bliss Carman Middle School.

 It will open May 5 and end May 30.

 Teams include the Fredericton Wildcats, River City Titans, Capital Reds and Freddy Beach Ravens.

 At stake is the Joyce Slipp Cup for the winners, named in honour of Fredericton’s long-time player and coach and former Canadian Olympic team captain.

 All games will be regulation 10-minute quarters with two officials.

 ‘Picking the best time of year for the games was a key initiative, but we also wanted to ensure if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it right,’ said Janes. ‘Each team will have a protected list of about 12 to 15 players and most will have seven to 10 for the games. The idea is everyone wants to play, so all teams must have a minimum seven players per game. Team uniforms and a constitution are all a part of it to ensure competitive games and promote a solid product.’

 Each team has a manager in charge of roster selections and all four teams are ready to go.

 ‘We had discussed hosting a registration, but there had been attempts at that in the past and it just doesn’t work,’ said Janes. ‘All four managers have their players to reach out to and bring them into the fold. We know there will be some who see the league and want to play, but this is a trial season to what’s out there. There are all kinds of possibilities, but we do believe the early spring season works best. We look forward to seeing how this all unfolds.’

 There is also the possibility of the league being involved in two tournaments, one in late May, the other in early June that would involve teams from Fredericton, Moncton, Saint John, Quebec and Halifax.

 A schedule will be released soon.