Gottschall key con­trib­u­tor for re­build­ing X-women

Antigo­nish na­tive en­joy­ing first sea­son with Blue and White

The Casket - - Sports - COREY LEBLANC coreyle­[email protected]­cas­ket.ca

Although she has only played a hand­ful of home games in her first var­sity sea­son, Brianna Gottschall has many fond mem­o­ries of Coach ‘K’ Court at St. F.X.’S

Oland Cen­tre.

“It is re­ally cool to be able to play on the court, where you can point out the spot where you learned your first cross­over [drib­ble], where you learned how to shoot the ball,” the St. F.X. X-women for­ward said, re­flect­ing on her days with the Antigo­nish Mi­nor Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (AMBA).

Gottschall de­scribed play­ing for her home­town team, one she has watched since child­hood, as “re­ally sur­real.”

“It is nice to be able to look out into the au­di­ence and see my fam­ily and friends; peo­ple that I have played with, and coaches I have played for,” the Antigo­nish na­tive said.

Gottschall laughed and nod­ded, when asked if she was a ‘gym rat.’

“I am, for sure. I get in there as much as I can to work on things,” she said.

Not sur­pris­ingly, that’s where Lee Anna Osei first saw Gottschall.

“I am com­ing in and ev­ery­body has a blank slate,” the firstyear X-women head coach re­called of their ini­tial con­ver­sa­tion.

Osei knew the 20-year-old had made the team in 2017, but de­cided to leave the pro­gram.

“I told her, in terms of what hap­pened in the past, I can’t speak on that but, if you make a de­ci­sion to try out for the team, you will be given a fair shake, like any­one else,” she said.

They spent a lot of the sum­mer to­gether – not only on the court, but also on the track and in the weight room.

“I think her ded­i­ca­tion to want to work on her craft, es­pe­cially in this off-sea­son, re­ally made a huge dif­fer­ent. She is a worker,” Osei said.

She noted this will be a “grow­ing year” for Gottschall.

“Brianna is one of our more dy­namic play­ers. She is not a true fresh­man, in the sense of time on the floor. It is very good to see that things are pay­ing off for her, in the short term,” Osei said.

“I think – big pic­ture – she is some­body who can step out and re­ally hit shots and ex­tend the ‘D,’ which we need on our team. We don’t have that many play­ers with the abil­ity to shoot it.”

She noted the Dr. John Hugh Gil­lis Re­gional Roy­als’ prod­uct hadn’t played a game in two years.

“It is a big jump,” Osei said of the move to uni­ver­sity bas­ket­ball.

She also talked about Gottschall’s ver­sa­til­ity, in­clud­ing not only the abil­ity to play on the perime­ter, but also in the post.

“I am con­fi­dent that, if she con­tin­ues to de­velop – we get her foot speed quicker – she will be able to do a few things, off the drib­ble, that, again, will open up the floor not just for her­self, but for her team­mates,” Osei said.

She added Gottschall is “one of our most men­tally tough kids.”

“She has a very un­fazed look about her. On the flip­side of that – the poise is one thing – but we want to see emo­tion [come] out of her. We want to see that com­pet­i­tive fire,” Osei said.

‘Just get­ting bet­ter’

Gottschall is fo­cussed on “just get­ting bet­ter,” when it comes to her skills, in­clud­ing play­ing offthe-drib­ble and im­prov­ing her quick­ness.

“I have usu­ally played in­side. I have to work at be­ing more dy­namic and push­ing my­self out­side, get­ting out of my com­fort zone,” she added.

When asked about the big­gest ad­just­ment to the var­sity level, she talked about game speed.

“Ev­ery­thing is a lot faster. You have to be a lot quicker with your move­ments and get­ting up and down the court,” Gottschall said.

“You have to be in a lot bet­ter shape. It was, kind of, a big curve get­ting over that bump, at the be­gin­ning, to just get my­self in shape and ready to go.”

Close knit

A sopho­more in the Bach­e­lor of Arts and Sci­ence in Health pro­gram, she is one of seven new faces, in­clud­ing six fresh­man, on the re­build­ing X-women.

“We have bonded. We are re­ally close,” Gottschall said, not­ing Osei is “re­ally good at get­ting us to­gether.”

“There are no con­flicts. We are work­ing well to­gether. We are push­ing each other and we hold each other ac­count­able, which is all part of be­com­ing a bet­ter team,” she added.

Gottschall is op­ti­mistic about the progress the X-women have made.

“We are im­prov­ing ev­ery day and we have been learn­ing a lot in prac­tices,” she said.

Hol­i­day ac­tion

The X-women, who have wrapped up their pre-christ­mas con­fer­ence schedule, will re­turn to the court, from Dec. 30 to Jan. 1, when they tip-off in the Dyrick Mcdermott In­vi­ta­tional at Mount Saint Vin­cent Uni­ver­sity.

The Blue and White will re­sume AUS ac­tion Fri­day, Jan. 4, when they visit the Saint Mary’s Huskies in Hal­i­fax.

St. F.X.’S first home game of 2019 is set for Wed­nes­day, Jan. 9, when they host the Dal­housie Tigers on Coach ‘K’ Court at Oland Cen­tre. Game time is 6 p.m.

Sam Macdonald

Antigo­nish na­tive Brianna Gottschall is in her first sea­son with the St. F.X. X-women bas­ket­ball team.

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