Ontario Tech hoops program set for historic debut

The Ontario Tech University women's basketball team huddles during practice Wednesday. Photo credit: Marcus Levy-Ash

Ontario Tech’s women’s basketball team is set to make history.

The Ridgebacks are playing their first-ever university game tonight, a pre-season match against the Brock Badgers.

“It’s our inaugural season so we want to make a point, put our foot down and let everyone know that we are here,” said Aprille Whyne, a 5-foot-4 point guard and one of four recruits coming to Ontario Tech from Montreal.

The team has been practising for the last six weeks trying to prepare for the season. Assistant coach Chris Skinner thinks the team has plenty of room to improve but believes as the season goes on it will.

“It’s going to be a process, we are not going to win overnight. We are still teaching them a lot of things. We are probably a three out of ten right now, but we will get there. It’s going to be a process,” he said.

Skinner is hoping the team can get to .500 at some point during the season. He says the team is very easy to coach because the players all come ready and willing to work on their game every day.

“They are very encouraging, they come with their work hat on every day. These are girls who want to be here so it’s a lot easier coaching a girls university team when they want to be here so that’s a positive for them,” said Skinner.

Despite not having all the top recruits coming to play for the Ridgebacks, Skinner believes the reason some players chose to go to other schools isn’t strictly based on basketball.

“It’s just the situation and school-wise girls just don’t pick based on basketball. Education is a big part of it, coaching is a part of it and the environment. The girls on the team is a big reason on why they choose a school,” he said.

Skinner brings high school and club basketball coaching experience to the Ridgebacks. He was former director of basketball operations with Markham’s Thornlea Prep in 2017-18.

Whyne came to Ontario Tech because she wanted to play for a new team and get a fresh start going into a new season.

“I feel like it would be a great year for a fresh start. I have a couple of teammates that I was playing against in Montreal so coming here I already had a sense of family,” she said.

“Team goals I would say are communication and working hard especially when our low times come be able to stick together and stay strong.”

Whyne says the team will keep its approach basic.

“This upcoming season as a team I’m expecting for all of us to basically work hard, better ourselves, and really put ourselves out there because it’s our first time,” said Whyne.

The Ridgebacks play their second game Sunday at 1 p.m. against the York Lions. Both games are at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre.