Loralyn Murdoch was back in a familiar spot last weekend as she patrolled the sidelines of a UNBC Timberwolves women's basketball game.
Except it wasn't all that familiar. Instead of being on the bench with the current T-wolves players, Murdoch was guiding the alumni who have gone through the UNBC women's basketball program in the last 16 seasons in Saturday's annual alumni game. Murdoch herself was an alumni, having given up her coaching duties last spring after accepting the position of UNBC athletic director.
"It's tough being in the gym tonight and it's tough not being there for the preparation part of it," said Murdoch.
"I love preseason. I love the training and getting the team together and doing the team building and bonding. The season's going to start pretty soon and it goes by so fast. It's been real tough to not be there, but I've had to kind of step back and let this group go forward with the new coaching staff and really find their way."
Saturday was a heartfelt night from start to finish for Murdoch and the current and past members of the T-wolves. The eyes began glistening when the current players arrived on the court clad in their new pink jerseys. The new jerseys are a part of the CIS Shoot for the Cure women's basketball initiative to raise money for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
"Tonight was kind of a surprise I wasn't expecting them to want to wear them," said Murdoch. "It's close to my heart and it's close to some of the alumni's hearts. We've had two alumni lose parents while they were current players here and I lost a sister to breast cancer in March."
Murdoch said she talked with her sister Shannon Murdoch prior to her death about honouring her with the pink jerseys, emblazoned with Team Shannon on the back. During their playing days, alumni Soili Smith lost her father to cancer and Christine Kennedy lost her mother.
"It symbolizes everyone who was touched by cancer," said Murdoch, adding her sister was 54.
"The idea being that these kids wear those jerseys with a lot of pride."
After the game, Murdoch's 11-year-old niece and 16-year-old nephew texted asking for a photo of the team in the jerseys with their mom's name on them.
"It's inspirational for them and it's inspirational for my family," said Murdoch.
"We're honoured that these girls wanted to wear them and we thank them for their support."
Since the Shoot for the Cure program started in 2007, CIS women's basketball teams have raised about $430,000 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. The T-wolves will wear their third jerseys during tournaments this season and during a home game in January when they raise funds for the CIS Shoot for the Cure program.
The current T-wolves rolled to victory against their former coach and alumni Saturday night at the Northern Sport Centre with an 89-58 win. Alumni who returned included BCCAA All-Canadians Lindsay Anderson, Jaclyn Nazareno, Kennedy and Jennifer Clyne. After the game, Kennedy presented a tearful Murdoch with a plaque to commemorate her years as the team's coach.
"The girls that came for alumni are all very close to my heart," said Murdoch. "It was a lot of fun to be out there and to play against the varsity kids. They played well. They ran us and they should've ran us. I think we showed a lot of skill and they showed a lot of fitness."
* The competition for T-wolves new head coach Sergey Shchepotkin and the current roster will get tougher this weekend as the team leaves Wednesday for Edmonton where they'll play three games, starting Thursday (6 p.m.) versus Grant MacEwen University. Other games include Friday (noon) against NAIT Ooks and Saturday (noon) versus the Mount Royal Cougars.
The lady T-wolves will in Kamloops against the TRU Wolfpack during the Thanksgiving weekend and return home to host exhibition games Oct. 25, 26 versus Quest University. Game time is 6 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively.