#Winning is not normal – Lancers women’s b-ball second in CIS

When looking at teams who consistently win championships, the terms “winning culture” and “team identity” are often associated with those organizations. Part of the mystique of sports is that the most talented teams do not always emerge victorious. Rather, it is the teams that have the clearest understanding of who they are as individuals and as a program who build dynasties.

U of W Lancers Women’s basketball team. Photo by Amber Irvine.
U of W Lancers Women’s basketball team. Photo by Amber Irvine.

U of W Lancers Women’s basketball team. Photo by Amber Irvine.

Mike Specht

Sports Editor

When looking at teams who consistently win championships, the terms “winning culture” and “team identity” are often associated with those organizations.  Part of the mystique of sports is that the most talented teams do not always emerge victorious.  Rather, it is the teams that have the clearest understanding of who they are as individuals and as a program who build dynasties.

Lancers Women’s Basketball Coach Chantal Vallee, who conducted her master’s thesis at McGill University on how coach’s build winning teams, has laid the foundation for a winning culture in Windsor that has resulted in four straight National Finals appearances and three straight victories.

“Our team saying is that winning is not normal, because if you want to win you can’t act like anybody else or train like anybody else or think like anybody else. We think differently and train differently because winning is not normal,” said Coach Vallee.

For Vallee, a coach’s job goes beyond X’s and O’s; believing that the most significant contribution a coach makes to their team is establishing their identity.  According to Vallee, a team’s identity is about more than their on-court strengths and limitations, but is also about setting an example as people in the community.

That is what is meant by a “winning culture,” when an entire organization unwaveringly buys into a single vision.  The players play a major role in this, as it is their responsibility to trust the coach’s direction and live up to team ideals every day.

The Lancers are fortunate to possess strong leaders such as Jessica Clemoncon and Miah-Marie Langlois who set an example for the younger players every day.

When asked how she felt about their 104-25 victory over the Algoma Thunderbirds, veteran guard Langlois responded with the same poise she shows on the court every night.

“The score is not important.  It was a team win tonight, and everyone showed up,” she said.

“We have really great chemistry on and off the court.  There is no drama and we are able to be open with each other with criticism, and positivity. I think that is the best way to have a team, it’s a great dynamic,” she continued.

For a team that has made it seem pretty natural over the last five years, it is a constant process to reinforce that winning is not normal.  To continue to be the best team in the nation, Coach Vallee stresses the importance of being exceptional every day both on and off the court. After going undefeated in 2012 to 2013, the Lancers suffered their first loss in 36 games on opening night to the Carleton Ravens.

The women have since rattled off seven straight wins to move into a three way tie for first in the OUA West with Western and Laurier.

“It was a call to wake up our leadership, it’s hard when you’re a sub to come in when the starters aren’t playing as well to steal the show.  It was really a wakeup call for our starters,” said Vallee.

The 3-peat champions are currently ranked second in CIS basketball, and have a chance to achieve history on home court in March when the Final 8 comes to Windsor. Never before in CIS Women’s Basketball has a team won four consecutive titles.

“We are super excited to host nationals again, personally I am excited for Miah and Jessica because this is their fifth year.  Their first year on the team they lost in the national finals, and came back and haven’t lost since,” said Vallee.

“So I know that they aren’t going to want to lose on their home court at any point. It is exciting for us and we need to stay healthy and be ready and well prepared.  I can only hope for the best.”

The culture of winning established by these women is truly unrivaled by any team in the CIS.  Under the tutelage of Coach Vallee this team has shown exactly what it means to play Lancer basketball handling success and adversity with the grace champions.  With a chance to make history on their home court in March, it is hard not to like their chances.

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