By Zachary Flynn
After five years of playing for the NAIT Ooks, Leah Vandenboogaard returned to the NAIT gymnasium – this time, on the opposing bench.
Following her final season with the Ooks, Vandenboogaard was selected by the CCAA to be a part of the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association’s Female Apprentice Coach Program. As a part of this program, she is an assistant coach for the Olds College Broncos, the defending Women’s basketball national champions coached by Avery Harrison.
Vanbenboogaard returned to the NAIT Gymnasium where her Broncos defeated the Ooks 73-38.
“It’s tough being back here, they’re my family,” said Vandenboogaard.
“It’s nice to get the win but it’s also bittersweet because I want them to do really well too.”
Vandenboogaard’s transition to coaching has been an enjoyable one.
“It’s been really interesting. It’s a different dynamic. You go from being one of the girls, being a part of that group, to now they’re asking you questions and they want to know what to do – not that you don’t do that as a player in a leadership role,” she said.
After playing for Todd Warnick and the Ooks for five years, there are certain things that she now carries with her to Olds. At the same time, Avery Harrison’s team, averaging 90 points per game at the end of 2019, brings a new offensive perspective for Vandenboogaard.
“I definitely focus more on the defensive side of the game like how Todd [Warnick] does, so that’s definitely where I get that from. They’re very different coaches so it’s good to learn from someone else with a totally new perspective,” she said.
Following their game at the North vs South tournament while their players shook hands, Vandenboogaard gave hugs to her former teammates and coaches.
“It’s great to see young women in this who played this game and contribute as leaders [and] as players to step into the leadership roles of the game,” said her former coach, Todd Warnick.