Rookie already impressing women’s basketball team
It’s clear Myriam Leclerc can score points for the Concordia Stingers women’s basketball team. In her three years playing for Cégep Ste-Foy in Quebec City, she averaged 12.7 points per game, and led the league in scoring in her final season last year. But what she brings to the Stingers is so much more than just scoring—she brings leadership.
“I need to be a leader, speak and don’t be shy to say what I think,” Leclerc said about her leadership style. “I think I’m the type of person you could talk to.”
Leclerc is in her first season with the Stingers and when head coach Tenicha Gittens was recruiting her, she challenged her to be a vocal leader.
“She always has this poise to her, you never know what she’s thinking, and as a point guard, you have to be poised,” said Gittens about Leclerc. “But you also have to be vocal. You have to get other people involved, directing using hand gestures, and that’s something I challenge her everyday to do in practice.”
The point guard is one of six rookies on the new-look basketball team. Coming out of Cégep, Leclerc chose Concordia because she knew it’s where she belonged right away.
“When I visited here, I felt like it was my place with the girls and coaches, and the atmosphere felt really good,” Leclerc said. She enrolled in accounting because she enjoys working with numbers and business, and heard great things about the John Molson School of Business. “Everything was just a good choice for me, academically and with the team sports.”
Leclerc said she’s enjoying her first semester at Concordia, but is only taking three classes because it’s the first time she’s doing her schooling in English. It’s not the first time she’s playing basketball in an English environment—she first did that with the Canadian national team at various youth levels. Since 2014, Leclerc has been participating in training camps for the youth national team in Toronto, where she first learned how to be a leader.
“The whole experience [with Team Canada] was great, and I could speak more English than I was before, and I’m more confident with meeting people,” Leclerc said, adding that it helped her come to Concordia with knowledge of English basketball terms. Still, her teammates are there for her when she needs them.
“I know if I’m struggling [to find a word], I know the girls have my back, so I’m confident about it,” Leclerc said.
“We make a lot of fun of my accent in the locker room,” Leclerc added with a big laugh, saying it’s all in good fun. “We know it’s friendly and lovely.”
The rookie’s play on the court is nothing to laugh at. She instantly made an impact for her team, carrying the Stingers to a perfect 3-0 record and winning the MVP award at the Concordia Classic tournament. She has already been named the female Stingers athlete of the week twice this semester, once for her performance at the Concordia Classic on Oct. 9, and again on Nov. 13 for her 17-point game in the home-opener. As a point guard, Leclerc controls the play and sees the court well. “My greatest strength is my IQ, like I know when to rush [the ball up] or when not to,” Leclerc said.
“She’s a floor general and understands the game,” Gittens said. “She can score freely and get other people involved. She creates [chances] for other people and creates them for herself, and brings a calmness to the team.”
Gittens is benefitting from having a player like Leclerc. A year after going 4-12 and missing the playoffs, the Stingers went 9-1 in the preseason and sit in second place in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) with a 3-1 record. Leclerc is averaging a team-high 17.8 points, 3.8 assists and 5.8 rebounds per game. But this doesn’t come as a surprise to Gittens.
“If anyone followed her throughout her Cégep career and saw what she did on the court with the team she had, then coming here with [the players we have], then it’s no surprise to what she’s done,” Gittens said.
Leclerc credits the team’s success to a good atmosphere. “We’re always together and bonding, we’re a loud team and we’ve just had so much fun so far this year” Leclerc said. “We just like each other, there’s no one [girl] you like more than any other. We’re just like a family with a bunch of sisters and we have each others’s backs.”
The first-year grew up in Saint-Roch-de-Richelieu, a municipality of over 2,000 people close to 80 kilometres east of the Loyola campus. There, she started playing basketball at eight years old, before moving to Quebec City for Cégep. Now in Montreal, she’s closer to her family.
Leclerc said her biggest role models growing up were her parents, Rosanne and Bruno, who were always there for her. “They worked so hard for me and pushed me,” Leclerc said. “When I was not knowing what to do or didn’t know if I wanted to continue playing basketball, they were there for me and kept pushing me.”
The rookie point guard said there were times, such as between high school and Cégep, when she wondered if it was worth pursuing basketball. “But for me, it wasn’t an option to stop—I needed to play basketball.”
Luckily for the Stingers, Leclerc has continued playing until now, and wants to help her team succeed. “We want to be the provincial champions for sure. We have the team to do it, we just need to keep pushing and get better every day.”
Main photo Gabe Chevalier.