Building a winning era in women’s basketball

With the new fall semester comes a new era for women’s basketball at Carleton University, as Taffe Charles, BA/94, takes on the role of head coach.

Charles took over the job on May 14 and envisions a season of rebuilding the basketball program and its reputation in the community. Last year, the women’s basketball team’s overall record was 5-25.

Charles’s aim is to improve the team’s skills, and he held scrimmages for current and potential teammates four times per week during the summer months. During the school year, practices will be more competitive and will take place six times per week. During 3 on 3 and 4 on 4 practice drills, Charles will keep track of which teams are winning and losing to make the women more aware of their performance. Each player will focus on shooting 200 to 250 shots per practice.

“It’s not just playing anymore,” explains Charles.

Allison McCann is a third-year Integrated Science student who plays forward and shooting guard for the team, and she is looking forward to finding out more about the new coach’s techniques and style. McCann says her own goal as a team member is to “help lay a strong foundation in terms of a dedicated attitude, teamwork and work ethic that will allow us to build a winning program.”

One of the new head coach’s top priorities is to increase community interest in and support for the team, as recommended by the Competitive Sport Review Committee. “Currently the men’s basketball team has a strong alumni community,” explains Charles. “I’d like to see former women’s basketball teammates participating in events and games.”

In addition Charles hopes to start a travelling team next summer for secondary school students on the club system to assess potential team members’ skills and identify possible recruits.

“There is a high level of basketball skill in Ottawa so recruitment needs to be a high priority,” says Charles. This approach would also give potential players the opportunity to assess Charles’s coaching style and philosophy.

Charles is optimistic about the future of the women’s basketball team and senses that the players are equally positive. Jennifer Brenning also has high aspirations for the team. Brenning is the director of Recreation and Athletics, and she hopes to see the team in the top three in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) East tournament within the next three years.

“We are very happy Taffe put his name forward for the position,” says Brenning. “He’s committed, loyal and knows what it takes to compete and win at the national level.”

Charles’s “Smart” approach

From 1990-95, Charles was a member of the Carleton University men’s basketball team. After graduating he became the assistant coach of the women’s basketball team.

For the past nine years, Charles has worked with head coach Dave Smart and helped see the men’s basketball team to five national championships. “Dave taught me how to prepare the team for practices and build the program, and how to win,” states Charles, who calls Smart “the best basketball coach in Canada.” “Now it’s up to me to make it happen for the women.”

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