From rookie to leader: Rachel Woodburn’s impressive growth on and off the court

File Photo/ by Sadman Rahman

With midterm season among us, Rachel Woodburn is going from the classroom to the court as she balances studying and writing midterms, while being a third year guard for the Wilfrid Laurier University women’s basketball team.

This week Woodburn and the rest of the Golden Hawks face their final two games of the regular season before heading in the OUA playoffs. Woodburn began playing basketball in grade six in her hometown of Ajax, ON. It was shortly after attending a sports camp that she fell in love with the game.  With a little encouragement from a friend she tried out for her local rep team, and thus began Woodburn’s basketball career.

“I like the competitiveness of [basketball], I’m a very competitive person so like I think it’s a good way to keep that competitiveness contained in a place where it’s appropriate.”

There is no doubt that Woodburn brings a fierce hustle while on the court as she always comes ready to play her best. During the 2016/17 season Woodburn was named Team Rookie of the Year, and also made the OUA Women’s Basketball All-Rookie team.

Two weeks ago, she was named Athlete of the Week following the best game of her career as a Golden Hawk. Woodburn put up 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists during the double overtime game that ended in a 59-58 loss against the University of Waterloo.

“When we played Waterloo it was a really tough loss, but we hit some big shots and I feel like with those big shots we were all really united,” said Woodburn.

With a fire in her soul Woodburn will continue to hustle and bring her competitive spirit onto the court during these final two games of the regular season and as the Hawks enter the playoffs.

Those big shots included an assist on a basket in overtime that tied up the game, and knocking down a three point shot in double overtime. Friday night the Golden Hawks have the chance to redeem themselves against the Waterloo Warriors. Woodburn is hoping that her team stays aggressive, tries their best, and works their hardest to close with the win this time around.

Positivity with her teammates is something Woodburn says comes naturally to her, especially in her role as a third-year teammate. She is one of the oldest players on this very young team, but she shared that this leadership role has helped her to grow as a player and hold accountability throughout the season.

“Basketball has taught me a lot of things like self-discipline, how to be a good team player, how to work with groups and how to manage my time effectively.”

When asked about what it means to represent as a Golden Hawk, Woodburn said she feels honoured. “I came at a young age and got to watch other players play, so I feel like getting to play it is kind of like an honor, to play behind other people who have been so successful.”

Woodburn mentioned the likes of recent graduate Nicole Morrison, an OUA Women’s Basketball First and Second Team All-Star, President’s Award Recipient, and 2017/18 Team Most Valuable Player. She also mentioned Kaitlyn Scheck, current assistant coach, an OUA Women’s Basketball Second Team All-Star, 2016-17 Team Most Valuable Player, and 2012/2013 Team Rookie of the Year.

“I feel honoured to even go on the court and represent a school that has had so many great players.”

With a fire in her soul Woodburn will continue to hustle and bring her competitive spirit onto the court during these final two games of the regular season and as the Hawks enter the playoffs.

The final home game of the regular season is Friday, Feb. 12 at the Athletic Complex Gym against the Waterloo Warriors. Tip-off for the women is at 6 p.m. and men tip-off at 8 p.m. The Golden Hawks then play their final away game of the regular season against the Guelph Gryphons on Sat. Feb. 16.

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