Evolution of a hard-court leader

Like many athletes Pascale Morin took part in several different activities in her youth, amongst them was ice skating and volleyball, the latter of which she enjoyed a reasonable amount of success. Despite all that, however, Pascale never wanted to play basketball as a kid.

But thanks to a childhood friend, who convinced her to try it at the age of ten, Pascale has built a name for herself in the world of Quebec basketball. But the attraction wasn’t that immediate. “My friend was playing pee-wee and she asked me if I wanted to come to practice. I told her that no way did I want to play basketball,” she says. “I tried again the next year when I was 11 and I’ve never stopped.”

Fast-forward 12 years where Pascale, at the age of 23 and in her third year with the Concordia women’s basketball team, is currently in first year of leading the squad. While it’s not the first time that she has assumed a leadership role, there is a certain shyness and quiet reserve about Pascale that makes it hard to believe that she could command the necessary clout. “Pascale comes across very quiet and shy but on the court she’s the exact opposite,” Head Coach Keith Pruden says. “She’s not the type of athlete who craves the spotlight but she’s able to be a leader when she has to be.”

It’s essential to note that Pascale is not alone in leading the team as she has co-captain Maria-Jose Raposo, who’s also been with the team for three years, working hard beside her.

The initial leadership experience came a couple of years before becoming a Stinger when, with the College Montmorency Nomads, Pascale was well on her way to gaining an impressive resume as the team’s captain. It was with the Nomads that she achieved some of her proudest accomplishments. “I was really proud to be named an all-Canadian twice,” she says. She was also awarded with a bursary from the Stock exchange of the Foundation of the university sport of Quebec worth $6,000.

In spite of those accolades Pascale was still denied of what would have been the crowning achievement on her CEGEP career. “The last two years I was there we lost in National finals. I really think we should have been able to do that. Then they won the two after I left but I was still happy for them,” she says.

Pascale’s past has since caught up with her at Concordia where she has been joined by Emilie Ruel and Hln Tshimbalanga – both of whom played with her at Montmorency. “She’s always been a player that never gives up and is always positive,” Ruel says of her teammate’s leadership abilities. “The environment here [Concordia] is a lot different and she seems to be more in control here.”

Coming out of CEGEP the options were plentiful for Pascale but after taking into consideration the factors, Concordia was a natural choice. “Being in an English school was very important to me. I also really liked the look of the team,” she says.

While the U.S. posed some interest, Pascale explains why it just didn’t fit in with her plans. “I didn’t want to have to get a job where I’d be waking up at five in the morning, going to school and practicing. Since I’m not going to the WNBA I knew I could play here and I would still have time for myself.”

It seem as though Pascale’s intuition pushed her in the right direction as her fit with the Stingers over the last three years has proven to be a perfect one.

When she’s in game mode Pascale has been a force to be reckoned with, especially over the last two seasons in which she has been one of the dominate scorers in the QSSF. Last year she finished second in the conference with 12.4 points per game and this season she currently sits third at 12.2, while Raposo leads with 13.9. “She’s very athletic and understands the game well. She’s one of the top players that I’ve coached in the last ten years,” Pruden says.

In observing the team as a whole it would be easy for one to characterize Pascale as representing the voice of serenity and calm on what is, for the most part, an energetic and exuberant bunch of young women. “I’m not like a lot of the girls on the team. They’re very crazy and I’m a bit more reserved,” Pascale says. “I’m not going to scream and dance everywhere. I still like to party sometimes though.”

While there’s no questioning how important the last several years of college and university have been to her development, Pascale says her most memorable experience, thus far, came three summers ago when she played on the Quebec team. Competing on the team gave Pascale the opportunity to travel to countries such as Japan, Morocco, Madagascar, Tunisia and Senegal. “It was my best experience by far. I got to play against teams from different countries like Switzerland and France and I had a lot of fun.”

With a year left in management at Concordia it would be a little early to ask what Pascale sees in her future after Concordia.

Instead it’s important to look at what she is still capable of accomplishing in the time she has left as a Concordia student. The best evidence of this potential lies in her determination, something which Pruden describes by using an example from late last season.

“She’s been one of the most durable players out there. But last season she hurt her ankle badly in the last league game. She was really frustrated and still wanted to play in the playoffs. She wasn’t at her best but she tried to play anyway. That’s the type of competitor she is.”

With that perseverance the future should be bright for this competitor.

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