When Kristy Gallagher was a freshman player on the UVic Vikes basketball team, she was spending too much time on the bench.
She was a standout on the Parkland Secondary high school team, but Gallagher said she had a tough transition into university-level basketball.
“Going from head of the pack to having to earn everything, every day, right away is really difficult,” said Gallagher.
To improve her game, she trained every day in May and June, sometimes twice a day, and she ended up starting in her second year. Now in her fourth year, she has become a leader on the team, earned a place on the Vikes Honour Roll (which requires an 80 per cent average), and was chosen as a U-SPORT Academic All-Canadian.
She said that experience makes her a better mentor other first-year players struggling in the same way.
“I understand where they’re coming from and I’ve gotten to the other side.” said Gallagher.
As one of three fourth-years on the team, Gallagher is a senior member, and she said it’s hard to fill the shoes of last year’s leaders. But, it helps that Gallagher’s roommate is Nicole Karstein, one of those leaders who Gallagher said led by example when she was a younger player. She now tries to do the same for others.
Gallagher is optimistic about this season, even though the loss of three senior members was tough. The Vikes lost two games to Trinity Western that she felt were winnable, “but that was earlier in the season” and they ended the first half of the season with two big wins over Alberta, where the Vikes held them to under their average “which is unheard of” because Gallagher said “we’re the team that scores a lot but we also let teams score 15 more than they average.”
The Vikes have been working hard to improve their defence, getting stops and keeping possession, so “it was a good way to end the first half of the season.”
“I feel like the cohesion on the team has gone really well and I’m happy to be a part of that process,” she said.
Gallagher, a Recreation and Health Education student, is still figuring out what she wants to do after her university career. She likes the idea of playing basketball while completing a master’s degree in Europe, and could see herself as the athletic director of a university someday.
She is still in touch with her Parkland coach, Larry Green, and she said they talk on the phone at least once a week about “everything,” not just basketball.
“He’s a big part of my life still. He inspired by motivation for basketball and got everything going there. And continuously pushed me. It’s a big part of where I am today.”
Gallagher said she tries to be a presence for the current group of Parkland girls, helping out at practices where she can, even though she doesn’t get out to Sidney as much as she’d like. Her family are “huge supporters,” streaming every away game and cheering her on at home, but “they’re obviously biased,” whereas she will sometimes get a text from Green saying “you’ve got to move your feet!”