The Canadian west quarterfinals for women’s basketball are underway but one team is getting another week to prepare.
The University of Saskatchewan’s Huskies women’s basketball team gets a by this weekend because they placed in the top four this year.
The Huskies finished strong last year winning their first Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championship and their fourth Canada West for the second year in a row over their rivals the Regina Cougars.
Point guard Libby Epoch is one of the players making an impact within the ranks of the Huskies. The product of Moose Jaw is in her second year with a full athletic scholarship.
She’s been shooting hoops since the age of two, but now she’s slam dunking it with a game point average of 10.
Epoch might be the shortest player on the roster at 5’7”; however she’s been a starter for the Huskie’s since day one. “Definitely going under the hoop and stuff, being a smaller body it’s easier to fall down and get hit,” Epoch said.
Epoch has quite the athletic resume for only being 19. She’s won three back to back hooplas with her high school team but was snatched up by the national team in her final year. The U18 placed silver in Valdivia, Chile at the FIBA Americas U18 Women’s Championship in 2016.
“I love the teamwork aspect (of basketball) and a group of people coming together to reach a common goal is so satisfying when you can reach it,” Epoch said.
This past summer Epoch also played in Italy for Team Canada. The woman’s U19’s team came home from the FIBA world cup with a bronze medal.
Epoch said the balance of basketball attracts her to it. “I love the component of it, that skill base and you have to work at those skills for hours and hours,” Epoch said. “I also love the aspect that’s just hard work and determination, sprinting after those balls and playing hard defense.”
Epoch is hoping for an invitation to play at the Commonwealth Games with Team Canada next month. This would mean she would be on the development team, which is just under the Olympic team in rankings. Epoch’s dream is to win a National Championship with the Huskies at home, but would also like to make the Olympics one day.
Before focusing solely on hoops, Epoch used to be a competitive multi-athlete at her high school Albert E. Peacock Collegiate in Moose Jaw.
It seems from the start Epoch was an athlete to watch, as she made quite an impact on her high school coach.
“You knew that she was going to go as far as Libby wants to go,” said her former coach Renee Verge. Adding Epoch was very coachable.
“She has all the tools, physically and mentally and then she has a tremendous work ethic,” Verge said.
“Libby is one of those special athletes that I really truly believe only comes along once in your high school coaching career and I was just really thankful that I got to spend so much time coaching and working with Libby,” Verge said, Adding she’s been at it for almost 30 years.
Epoch’s strongest qualities, according to Verge, are her work ethic and determination for self-improvement. But the young athlete is not always so serious, as she is known for playing practical jokes Verge has been on the opposite end of Epoch’s practical jokes a few times but one sticks out from the rest.
Verge explains she has an exercise ball chair at school and Epoch had wanted to date her son for some time. “One day the entire exercise ball was missing off my chair,” Verge said. “The only thing left was my chair and on it was a note that said ‘I’ll return your ball when you let me date your son.’” Epoch has been dating her former coach’s son for around four years now.
Verge said she has numerous memories of Epoch taking critical shots and three-point shooting beautifully.
“Libby is such an unselfish player,” Verge said. “So, many times she could be driving for the hoop and taking this wonderful hoop herself and then at the last second would dish to her teammate.”
Epoch sees her position out on the court as a leadership role. “It’s almost like a chess game being a point guard and figuring out what plays to call,” Epoch said.
Before a game, her pre-game meal of choice is pasta with meat sauce, which she normally makes herself, unless she’s on the road. “When we are on the road you kind of just have to make due with what’s around you and how far you can go,” Epoch said.