Athlete of the year moves on

May 29, 2003, vol. 27, no. 3
By Marianne Meadahl



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The Clan women's basketball team will return to court this fall without a key ingredient to its success.

Five-year veteran Jessica Kaczowka is graduating and moving on. “It probably won't hit me until the fall,” says Kaczowka, whose past year's accomplishments include being named SFU's female athlete of the year, Canadian Interuniversity Sport player of the year for the second straight year and a contender for the Borden Ladner Gervais Award, given to Canada's top athlete.

“I'm used to being away in the summers, as I usually head home to Regina. But I expect once September hits, I'll start feeling homesick for them.”

Kaczowka has been with the team through its ups and downs, from the loss of long-time coach Allison McNeill to last year's first national championship, under new coach Bruce Langford. In March, she led SFU on its return trip to the national championship finals, where they finished fourth.

The lanky, focused player is described by McNeill as “one of the most intelligent players I have ever coached.” Langford says Kaczowka provided skill on the court, but was also a steadying influence off of it. “Her sportsmanship and demeanour provided a great deal of confidence to the team,” he says. “She has a good sense of humour and always kept things in perspective. We will miss her but she has provided a role model for those who follow and they have learned well from her.”

This spring Kaczowka marks the completion of her bachelor of arts degree in criminology with a grade point average of 3.44 and is laying new directions, which may continue to be basketball driven, at least in the short term. Kaczowka is considering playing basketball abroad like some of her predecessors and is looking at options.

Whether or not she continues to play, Kaczowka hopes to take a year off and travel. While she's done a lot of that through basketball, to such countries as Cuba, Spain and China, those trips have never allotted time to be a tourist. “I've been to many different countries, but with basketball you have to be aware of keeping a schedule, getting sleep and eating right,” she says. “You see mainly gyms and hotels.

“I have the bug to travel,” she adds. “I'd like to experience those other things.”

Kaczowka hopes to return to school to pursue graduate studies and would eventually like to work with young offenders. “Basketball has been great, and I've been fortunate to be able to juggle school and playing. I've found that I enjoy the process of learning, whatever I do.”

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