Ten player squad with few veterans leans on its star player
"DE-FENSE! DE-FENSE!" Teammates and fans chant as they watch from the sidelines, decked out in their red and white. It's game night for the women's SAIT Trojans basketball squad.
Taking to the court, among others, is number 14 — winger Clarise Jennings.
She may be one of the newest assets for the Trojans this season, but her ability is remarkable and it's not going unnoticed by SAIT women's head coach Donovan Martin. He can't seem to say enough about this rising young talent.
"Because we have so few people on the roster, she has had the opportunity to be a starter all season long. She's getting big minutes and lots of experience, therefore her progression is rapid — this athlete is not a typical rookie.
Martin said, "She has the physical tools to do it all. She can dribble. She can shoot. She can defend. She's tall and she is fast. The future is very bright for her."
This year the Trojans find themselves in an interesting position — they have only a 10-player squad. With a handful of veterans and many younger players, players must step up and fill the gaps as needed.
So far the team seems to be managing fairly well.
"It is C or C+ so far, but that is to be expected with this young team," Martin said.
"I didn't expect any more than that. I believe this team will continue to evolve and as the young players get more experience they will continue to get better."
Jennings seemed unfazed by the adversity her team has faced.
"Most people think the smaller squad is an obstacle. I think it has brought us closer together as a group. We all work hard. Obviously injuries and things will be a battle but so far we are doing really well," Jennings said.
She is also humble when talking about her star role on the team.
"I don't pay attention to it. I go there and do what my coach needs me to do — what my team needs me to do. It is obviously very flattering, but I don't let it get to me," Jennings said.
And teammate Jordyn Rabbitt added that, "Jennings may downplay her role on the team but there is no doubt she is a very important part of this team — both on and off the court.
"She is a motivated, hard-working, fun personality who brings energy to the team."
- By SARAH HARROWER