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Laurentian Lady Vees basketball alumni recall championship wins

Former Laurentian University Lady Vee coaches and players remember winning back-to-back national basketball championship titles in 1990 and 1991.

'We have lots of memories as players and it has nothing to do with winning'

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Alumni of Laurentian University's last national championship women's basketball team from 25 years ago recently spent some time remembering a time when they were at the top of their game.

There was plenty of laughter — and plenty of tears too.

Former player Shirlene MacLean won the Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Union (CIAU) title — first as a player with the Laurentian Lady Vees in 1990, then as an assistant coach the following year when Laurentian University captured its last national women's basketball title.

"Most of the time we don't even talk about the championships," said MacLean.

"We talk about everything else: all the off-the-court stuff, some of the crazy things that happen. We have lots of memories as players and it has nothing to do with winning."

Former Laurentian University women's basketball team members Chantal St. Martin, Shirlene MacLean and Angie MacDonald share some laughter and tears remembering the national championship victories 25 year ago. 14:53
Angie MacDonald, Chantal St. Martin and Shirline MacLean showing off some of their medals won with the Laurentian University Lady Vees basketball team from 25 years ago. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

MacLean chuckled when she recounted getting knocked out after taking an elbow in the face from teammate Chantal St. Martin, who was rebounding a ball.

"We still giggle about it," said MacLean.

But laughter quickly turned to reflection when the women recalled team members who have since passed away. 

Sue Foy died after a car crash in 2003 and guard Carolyn (Swords) Sturgess died from cancer in 2009. 

And when the conversation focused on former head coach Peter Ennis, the women tried to hold back tears — but broke down anyway. 

Ennis died of cancer in 1997 at the age of 50.

"He was a father figure to all the girls. He took care of us on and off the court. It was very difficult to lose him," said former Lady Vee Chantal St. Martin, who still finds it difficult to talk about her former coach.

"When we won the championships, part of me was doing it for Peter.  It was my last year of basketball and a good part of me was doing it for him ... we knew he was sick at that point," said St. Martin. 

Angie MacDonald was an assistant coach during the two championship years in 1990 and 1991. She was also a player in the 1970s when the Lady Vees won five consecutive national titles. 

MacDonald said she transferred to Laurentian University from Windsor in her final year of eligibility to be part of a winning program. 

"Ironically, my last year of playing was Peter Ennis' first year of coaching at Laurentian," said Macdonald.

We finally won the big one!- Angie MacDonald

In 1990 the Lady Vees were considered giant slayers, defeating the University of Calgary women's team and ending their 69 game winning streak, the longest in Canadian college history. 

"We finally won the big one," said MacDonald, calling the win "monumental."
 
She attributed the team's success to teamwork.

"All the players on the team put their egos aside," said MacDonald. "We played for each other ... the focus was on to win as a team."


1990-1991 CIAU Championship team

Laurentian Lady Vees defeated the University of Regina Cougars in overtime 79-72 

Head Coach
Peter Ennis

Assistant Coaches 
Angie MacDonald
Shirlene MacLean

Players
Sue Stewart
Diane Norman
Chantal St. Martin
Martha Sandilands
Tracy Phelps
Carolyn Swords
Christine Stapleton
Tricia Stewart
Nana Robinson
Louise Boulanger
Sue Foy
Laurie Lovell
Jen Leahy


1989-1990 CIAU Championship team

Laurentian Lady Vees defeated the University of Calgary Dinosaurs 74-65 and ended the longest winning streak of women's college basketball history of 69 consecutive wins. 

Head coach
Peter Ennis

Assistant coach
Angie MacDonald

Trainer/manager
Nicole Boychuck

Players
Jennifer Adams
Louise Boulanger
Susan Foy
Laurie Lovell
Shirlene McLean
Dianne Norman
Tracy Phelps
Nana Robinson
Chantal St. Martin
Martha Sandilands
Sue Stewart
Christine Stapleton
Trisha Stewart
Carolyn Swords

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