A scintillating Grade 12 season with the two-time reigning provincial champion St. Albert Skyhawks culminated with the Alberta Shooting Stars’ 3A Female Player of the Year Award for Shelby Hucul.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” said the first Skyhawks’ recipient in the award’s 18-year-history. “I guess it shows my progress as a player and all the hard work that I’ve put in and my coaches have put me through the three years that I’ve been here.”
Hucul was honoured at last Friday’s awards banquet at Chestermere High School as part of the Alberta Shooting Stars Showcase All-Star Game.
“I was pretty surprised and really happy when they called my name,” said the 17-year-old guard who will play university basketball next season with the Alberta Pandas.
Head coach John Dedrick said Hucul deserved the award.
“Quite simply it speaks to the volume of hard work and dedication that Shelby has put in towards making herself a better player and a huge contributor to some very good Skyhawks’ basketball teams. She has been a huge part of creating a tradition of excellence for our Skyhawks’ basketball program and this is reinforced by her selection by other coaches who recognize her value to our program’s success,” Dedrick said.
“It’s another example of a player wanting to be part of tradition, of excellence and being recognized as having achieved that goal. If you have the desire to experience basketball at the next level and be part of a successful program, then our SACHS program is the place to play.”
Hucul was an integral part in the Skyhawks’ repeating as 3A provincial gold medallists. The consistent scorer, diligent defender and indefatigable hoopster logged more court time than any other player during the team’s 32-12 campaign.
“I became more confident this year. I stepped into more of a leadership role and I believe I made myself and my teammates around me better,” said the Skyhawks’ co-captain.
The junior high product of the Vincent J. Maloney Marauders cracked the senior roster in Grade 10 and played a pivotal role with the 2009 3A Edmonton zone champions.
“The coaches and the players were all so welcoming as soon as I got here,” Hucul said. “The players that I played with that were older definitely gave me motivation to play harder.”
The rookie Skyhawk soared to new heights with the only 3A team in the metro Edmonton premier conference.
“The two years leading up to this year were great,” she said. “The first year I was just learning what kind of style to play with Dedrick as the coach and what kind of game the team played.
My Grade 11 year it was more of the same thing. I had amazing older teammates like Hilary [Annich] and Andrea [Heavener] and Courtney [Gogowich] and a whole bunch of others to show me the way. Even the younger players coming up helped me become a better player.
The Skyhawks finished 34-5, including a historic 14-0 season as the 2010 premier league champions, with Hucul in the starting line-up for the first St. Albert female basketball team to win provincials.
The 2011 Edmonton Journal all-star team selection gave her coaches a big shout out for making her the player that she is today.
Dedrick, and once [Paige] Gaudreau came here [as an assistant coach in 2009/10], they just pushed me to do my best and thats what I tried to do; I always tried to go 100 per cent because of them.
FOUL SHOTS: Hucul also received a $500 scholarship as the 3A award winner.
Dedrick was inducted into the Alberta Shooting Stars’ coaches hall of fame alongside Pandas’ head coach Scott Edwards at the awards banquet.
Zoe Downing and Katie Burak, a pair of Grade 11 Skyhawks, and Kelly Fagan, a Grade 12 from Paul Kane, participated in the showcase 4A all-star game at SAIT last Saturday. Hucul played in the 3A all-star game on the same team coached by Dedrick.