Durham Lords guard Andrea Zulich has played her last collegiate basketball game – not only for the Lords but competitively after using up all her five years of post-secondary eligibility.
Varsity athletes can only play five seasons of college and university sports and Zulich spent her first four playing for her hometown Laurentian University team.
Durham head coach Heather LaFontaine says Zulich was a great mentor for the younger players on the Lords, who finished with 13-3 record and lost in an Ontario Colleges Athletic Association quarter-final matchup against the Fanshawe Falcons.
“Zu was a great role model for our younger players as she showed everyone how to work hard at practices and games. She never takes a possession or a practice drill off. Always gives the team her best effort all the time,” says LaFontaine.
Zulich’s time at Laurentian allowed her to be a leader on the Lords.
“Zu was able to compare her other playing situation with this current year, which was a more positive environment. As a result she stepped up as a leader, on and off the court. If she wasn’t having a great shooting night, she contributed to our success with great defence, rebounding the ball and assisting on teammates’ baskets,” says LaFontaine.
Zulich’s love for basketball started in Grade 3, thanks to her father.
“My dad played for Western (University) and just put a basketball in my hand,” says Zulich.
Zulich played four years at Laurentian averaging 6.8 points for her career, but the numbers indicate she improved each year. In her rookie season at Laurentian she averaged 3.3 points. Her last year at Laurentian she finished with 9.4 points.
Being from Sudbury, she wanted to stay home and play for Laurentian.
“I like being close to my parents and grandparents as my whole family lives in Sudbury. The coach made it seem like he wanted me to stay there and I would be a good addition to the program,” says Zulich.
After spending four years at Laurentian she decided to go to Durham College for her final year. She says she picked Durham because she knew the coaches, as Lords’ assistant coach Kauri LaFontaine previously coached her at Laurentian.
“I knew the coaching style here, so I just wanted to have a good and positive last year,” says Zulich.
With the Lords she averaged 13.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.
She had a career-high 27 points this season in a game against St Lawrence.
Zulich says she was asked to do a little bit more at Durham than at Laurentian.
“I definitely got to showcase different aspects of my game at Durham. Compared to at Laurentian I was a shooter. Here I got to dribble the ball, driving, kicking it out to shooters and rebounding,” says Zulich.
She says knowing this was her last year she took it game by game and enjoyed every moment.
“I didn’t want to take anything for granted because five years fly bye. I went into every practice super fired up, every game fired up and just enjoy everyday,” says Zulich.
She says she will miss going to practice daily.
“Practice everyday, something to do and hanging out with the girls. Now I’m going to be bored,” says Zulich.
She says she enjoyed her time with the Lords.
“I would grade the season 10 out of 0. It sucks that we lost to Fanshawe but overall, myself, I had a really good time. It was just an all-around great experience,” says Zulich.
She says the tough part is knowing she is done playing college and university basketball.
“Just the fact that I will never, ever play basketball at such a high competitive level sucks – like I just want to play forever,” says Zulich.
She says she hopes be working at the Ontario Basketball Association at some point this summer.
“I’m trying to stay in the basketball world at some capacity,” says Zulich.
Next season, the Lords will need to replace the scoring of two graduating players – Zulich and Emily Glendinning – who were the second and third best scorers on the team.
Heather LaFontaine says the Lords will miss Zulich.
“We will miss her desperately next year. She was our leader in aspects of what makes a leader. On court, off court, positive at all times,” says LaFontaine.
Zulich says the Lords will be in good shape next season.
“They have a great group of girls and all my faith is in them to do well next year,” she says.