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Women basketball players trade in for the garnet and grey

Photo courtesy of Sarah Nolette

Transitions are never easy, but moving from one rival to another is  even more difficult—especially a crosstown rival.

That’s the case for two of the newest members of the Gee-Gees women’s basketball team. Jen Stoqua and Krista Van Slingerland traded in their Raven wings when they finished their undergrad studies at Carleton, and came to the University of Ottawa to pursue postgraduate degrees.

Van Slingerland is pursuing a master’s in human kinetics, while Stoqua is in teachers college. The U of O is a natural fit for the two ladies who love the city, but were looking for a change from Carleton.

The uniform may be different, but both athletes have found similarities in coaching styles and on-court play. University basketball in Ottawa differs from other cities because of the relationships between coaches. Many of them have worked together in the past and built similar strong programs.

This shared history of leadership often leads to plays, ideas, and philosophies that are the same at both Carleton and  the U of O.

One difference for both Van Slingerland and Stoqua is they are no longer rookies. Because of their playing time at Carleton, they are some of the most experienced players on the Gee-Gees team.

“We naturally found ourselves in a leadership role,” said Van Slingerland.  “With that role, we feel the need to share with the younger players.”

“But despite our experience, we still have to prove ourselves and want to lead by example for the other players on the team,” added Stoqua.

Van Slingerland brings another focus to the game as well—she stresses the importance of mental health. She took a year off from the Carleton squad to deal with depression, and is now sharing that experience in order to help others.

The Student Athlete Mental Health Initiative, founded by Van Slingerland, strives to reduce the stigma of mental illness, improve access to resources, and advocate for the mental well-being of student athletes.

Read more: Gee-Gees and Ravens working together

“I also plan on doing research into Canadian students because there is so little done in this important field,” she said.

These two newly bred Gee-Gees are going to bring the squad maturity and knowledge. Both Van Slingerland and Stoqua are confident about the upcoming season, and are happy with how the team has been developing.