By Scott Lepp
Throughout a player’s athletic career one can only dream of getting their name in the record books–to be listed with all the elite players of the game. Leighann Doan conquered this dream and made it a reality last weekend against the arch-rival University of Alberta Pandas by taking a pass from the perimeter and laying it in the basket. With those two points, the 1644th and 1645th of her career, she became the all-time leading scorer in Dino women’s basketball history.
"This type of accomplishment represents accumulation throughout your career," said Doan. "It’s just a privilege to be on the same list as the other Dino greats."
Although the Dinos had trouble with the Pandas on Friday night, Doan’s 22 points led the Dinos to a 62-59 victory. On Saturday night the Dinos continued their solid play and so did Doan; they controlled the entire game and won by a score of 80-75 while Doan chipped in another 22 points to go with eight boards. The Dinos remain the fifth seed in the country as they improve to 7-1 in Canada West play.
Turn the clock back five years: Doan’s senior year in high school. Not only did Doan play the game of basketball well, but she also won the Provincial Championship in shot put and excelled in softball. Naturally, college coaches all over the province wanted to bring Doan to their school, but the University of Calgary stood out.
"It was a big decision for me," Doan began. "But it all came down to coach Harle; she was very honest with me. She told me that I would earn my time with hard work. I felt this was the best situation for me."
Hard work is something Head Coach Shawnee Harle has never had to worry about with Doan.
"Leighann is a tremendous athlete, but she knows that she can’t just get by on her athleticism," said Harle. "Leighann has spent hours working on her game. The secret to her success is hard work."
Doan’s hard work paid off as she started every game of her rookie season for the Dinos and put up huge numbers, 17.1 points per game and 8.3 boards. Doan was named Canada West and CIAU Rookie of the Year and was a member of the Canada West second all-star team. Through the start of this season Doan has held a career average of 20.5 ppg over five years. What’s the trick to her consistency?
"Confidence; you have to know what you can do on the court," said Doan. "You have to believe in yourself and have high expectations for what you can do."
"She works so hard to be consistent, she’s a coach’s dream," Assistant Coach Claire Mitton added to Doan’s words.
Talent seems to flow all through the Doan family. Shane Doan, older brother of Leighann, had a huge career with the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL and was drafted seventh overall in the 1995 NHL draft. He now plays with the Phoenix Coyotes. Shane wasn’t the only NHL draftee in their family either as their father Bernie Doan was a former draft pick of the St. Louis Blues in 1971 as the 80th choice overall.
Over Doan’s illustrious post-secondary career she was named a unanimous Canada West and CIAU first team all-star three consecutive years and is working on another.
"A great quality about Leighann is her humility. If you want to know about her accomplishments you’ll have to ask someone else," said Harle. "Whenever she gets asked about her game, she gives the credit to her teammates for all they do."
In addition to the all-star selections, Doan was named CIAU Royal Bank Academic All-Canadian the past three years. Doan graduated with a Bachelor of General Studies degree and is spending her final year completing student teaching assignments in Calgary. When this year wraps up, Doan would like to go overseas and try the professional game in Europe. She already has some international experience as she was a member of the 1999 World University Student Games team that travelled to Spain and placed fifth. She also represented Canada at the Jones Cup in Taiwan.
"What an awesome experience that was playing overseas, it’s a whole new game over there," Doan said. "It was certainly a privilege to compete for my country as well."
As this is her last year of eligibility, Doan would like to see her team have a successful year.
"We would like to win the conference title and see if we can make it to the national championships again. This is the deepest and most talented team I’ve played on so far."
Harle summed up Doan’s extremely successful career.
"She’s had the spotlight since her rookie year and she’s handled it like a professional," said Harle. "She is the glue that holds our team together, she’s the captain of our ship. She leads by example."