• Canada West

UBC Thunderettes (WBB | Team)


NAME: Thunderettes

UNIVERSITY: British Columbia

CATEGORY: Team

SPORT: Women's basketball

YEARS ACTIVE: 1969-75


HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Six consecutive conference championships (1969-75)

  • Three straight national titles (1972-74)

  • Combined 56-4 in Canada West play (1972-73 to 1974-75)

  • Three players who would go onto enter the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame

STORY:


The dominant program during the early days of Canada West in the 1970s, the UBC Thunderettes women's basketball program was a West Coast power.


Led by the likes of future Canadian Basketball Hall of Famers Joanne Sargent, Kathy (Shields) Williams, and Carol Turney, UBC claimed conference championships every season between 1969-70 and 1974-75.


Along with their regional excellence over first Western Intercollegiate Athletic Association competition (1969-72) and then Canada West beginning with the 1972-73 season, UBC soared on the national stage as well.


In 1969-70 the program claimed the Canadian Senior 'A' national title with a win over the St. Vital Manitoba Grads 83-54 in the championship game, played in Saint John, New Brunswick. Overall, UBC went a remarkable 32-6 that season, establishing a program win record that stood for more than three decades.



The 1969-70 edition of the team was inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame in 2017, acknowledging that team's special season.


"We were all for one, an amazing group and I don't know if we knew it at the time, but we were breaking barriers. We were the first women's team to play in War Memorial Gym," recalled Betty Ross, who was a key part of the squad.



Beginning in 1971-72 there was a new national prize UBC had their sights on - the Bronze Baby, signifying university women's basketball supremacy. For three consecutive seasons, no one could best the Thunderettes, as they claimed wins over UNB (1972 and 1974) and Manitoba (1973) to top the nation.


From 1972-73 to 1974-75, UBC was nearly unbeatable in Canada West play, amassing a 56-4 record, establishing themselves as the conference's first women's basketball dynasty. Overall, they went 63-5 in conference and national tournament play over the four-year span, losing just once at the national tournament (1975 national final to Laurentian).


A trio of members from the Thunderettes have been inducted into the Canada West Hall of Fame as individuals, as head coach Ken Shields, Kathy (Williams) Shields, and Joanne Sargent were all part of the conference's inaugural hall of fame class in 2019-20.


Team members: Bev Barnes, Bev Bland, Heather Cranston, Linda (Willard) Evans, Wendy Grant, Jan (Gee) Kainer, Brenda McFarlane, Terri McGovern, Eija Peitso, Debbie Phelan, Betty Ross, Joanne Sargent, Liz Silcott, Carol Turney, Kathy (Williams) Shields, Ken Shields (head coach), Carol Shollert, Norm Vickery (coach).


Written by Evan Daum


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