Heather McCarthy WBBALL Featured in the Nanaimo Daily News

September 25th, 2012

 McCarthy ready to take next step with Mariners women's hoops team

Josh Aldrich
Daily News

Heather McCarthy is hoping to take full advantage of the opportunity she will be given this year with the Vancouver Island University Mariners women's basketball team.

The fourth year guard has worked her way from the far depths of the bench in her first year to being a big part of the team heading into this season. The Dover Bay grad put in a lot of work this off-season to be ready for this chance as they lost Kayla Gromme, Brittany Knievel, Richelle Rafnkjelson and Sarah Fraser off of last year's team.

But there is still a lot of returning talent, including forward Shayna Worthington and Jocelyn Jones who emerged as stars last season.

It is a different type of team this year than the one that went 14-2 in the regular season last year before falling in the Pacific Western Athletic Association final 62-53 to the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves.

And McCarthy will be a big role in their success this year.

"In my first year I didn't see a lot of minutes, but every year I've gained more confidence and worked on my skills so this year is going to be good," she said.

McCarthy should be a familiar name to those who follow VIU hoops, her brother Patrick spent five years playing for the men's team before graduating last season.

She says Patrick has been one of her biggest fans since she arrived on campus and used to show up to games with a sign that read "We want No. 9 off the Pine!" However, he won't be around this year, moving to Vancouver for work, but she says he better be at games when they play Camosun, Langara and Quest.

"We have a very close relationship, we joke around a lot, we're very competitive that way," said Heather McCarthy, who has most of two years left in the sport health and physical education program.

If he does show, he will not see the same player. McCarthy, always a strong defensive player, has worked hard this summer to develop her offensive side report-edly should be a weapon from beyond the three-point stripe.

But it has not been the easiest transition for her. She was used to playing big minutes in high school, but when she got to VIU she found herself behind some very talented players and did not see much playing time.

It proved to be motivation to get better, to force her way into the lineup.

"I've learned you had to earn your minutes," she said. "I've put in the work and had a strong offseason this summer."

Head coach Bill McWhinnie has high hopes for his 21-year-old wing this season.

"She can do a lot of things, she's super intelligent, she's hard working, she can really guard and she makes people around her better," said McWhinnie.

"She's one of those kids that is the reason why people coach, to be around people like that."

The Mariners will have a different look this year, with a different leadership group based around McCarthy, Worthington and Jones. But change could be good for this team after coming up just short of a provincial title last year.

"I like what I see, this is a noego, no-excuses type of team," said McWhinnie. "It's as tight a group as we've had in the last four years."

VIU will finally get into exhibition play next week when they have a scrimmage at the University of Victoria against the Vikings. They will also host Lewis and Clark College out of Portland on Oct. 12.