Foltinek’s second season is a success, even if she may not admit it

As Jessica Foltinek improves, so do the Dinos.

The second-year post player has grown in leaps and bounds over the last two seasons, and so has her team. From a 9-11 record in 2001-02, the team has improved to 10-6 this year, with talk of an appearance at the national championships, despite a pair of heartbreaking losses at the hands of the University of Regina Cougars last weekend.

Foltinek had 11 rebounds on Friday and 12 points each night, one of five Dinos to score in double figures on Friday and one of four to do so on Saturday. However, the Dinos’ defence wasn’t able to hold off the Cougars, resulting in 75-69 and 78-73 losses.

“I definitely feel we have the talent to play with any team in the country,” said Head Coach Shawnee Harle. “But for that statement to be true, we have to play better defence than we did this weekend. We average 69 points a game, so we have to keep teams in the low- mid 60s.”

Although they played catch-up for almost the entirety of Friday’s game, the Dinos held a slight lead through most of the second game before making several mistakes in the last minute to give the Cougars a second win.

Anna Bekkering led the Dinos with 16 points on Friday and scored 16 again on Saturday to finish just behind Shari Jonker’s 18 points. Foltinek topped the rebound list on Friday and Lindsay Maundrell notched eight boards on Saturday to lead the team.

One of the keys to the Dinos’ game, in terms of offence or defence, is Foltinek. After a debut year that saw her go from a struggling freshman to a member of the conference All-Rookie Team, Foltinek has become one of the central figures on the team.

“How does the phrase go? ‘You’ve come a long way, baby,'” laughs Harle. “When I look at where she was last year, and where she is now, it’s the single biggest improvement in one year in all my coaching career.”

When Foltinek came out of high school in Calgary, Harle was the only basketball coach who expressed interest.

“She came to camp one summer, and right away her athletic ability stood out,” Harle remembers. “Athletic ability is something you can’t teach. She was raw talent-wise, but our coaching staff was confident that we could teach her the skills to be successful.”

Foltinek had to choose between basketball and volleyball when she reached university, and it was Harle’s persistence that made the difference.

“It was how hard Shawnee was recruiting me that gave me confidence,” Foltinek recalls.

Confidence is a word that comes up often in conversations about Foltinek–specifically, a lack of confidence.

“Her biggest hurdle right now is that she fights self-doubt which results in a lack of toughness at times,” Harle states. “It doesn’t matter how good the coaching staff thinks she is or how good the team thinks she is: it’s how good she thinks she is.”

“Confidence has always been a stumbling block,” Foltinek adds. “It’s something I struggle with all the time.”

Outside of basketball, Foltinek is majoring in Fine Arts, making her one of only a handful of U of C athletes in that program. Although she originally hoped to become a teacher, she is now leaning toward a career in architecture or design. Being a Fine Arts major brings some challenges that most other athletes don’t face.

“It forces you to manage your time,” Foltinek explains. “The other girls can take their books on the road, but you can’t move an entire studio. You’re forced to plan ahead.”

With the Dinos, Foltinek is averaging an impressive 10.4 points a game, and her 8.6 rebounds per game are fifth in the country. With numbers like that in only her second year, Harle feels that Foltinek’s potential is virtually limitless.

“When she starts believing in herself, she’s going to be an All-Canadian,” the coach enthuses. “We have two posts [Foltinek and Cory Bekkering] we can’t win without. When [Foltinek] puts her mind to it, she can be the most physically dominant post in all of Canada West.”

Foltinek and the Dinos will host the 2-14 Trinity Western University Spartans this Friday and Saturday in the Jack Simpson Gymnasium, with games at 6:30 p.m. both nights. Following Saturday’s game, the Dinos will honour fifth-year forward Anna Bekkering.

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