A Basketball Journey: Julie Mireles and Daniella Matich
The Lions Women’s Basketball team has jumped into the 2016/17 season and the athletes, new and returning, are eager to improve upon the unsatisfactory results of their inaugural ACAC year.
As they strive for excellence on the court this season, the team will be led by third-year veterans: Julie Mireles and Daniella (DeeDee) Matich—two players from unique backgrounds who are now unified by a love for the game and an even greater love for their team.
Here is a sneak peek into the basketball journeys that led them to the Lions’ Den!
For three-year-old Julie Mireles, thumb-sucking and cartoon-watching were unimportant; there was no denying that her heart was set on basketball from the start. She attributes much of her early passion to the inspirational influence of her older sister, Jeanette.
Julie Mireles explains: “My sister played, so every game I was there. I always had a basketball in my hand because I wanted to be just like her.” A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Mireles started to play in competitive leagues as early as possible to craft her skills and build a foundation of consistent shooting and solid ball-handling.
She went on to play for the Tolleson High Wolverines, where she won a State Championship in her sophomore year. Mireles was also part of the highly competitive club basketball scene in Arizona for most of her youth. Her skills were developed most notably through the Arizona Elite Girls Basketball Club— which equipped her with the necessary athletic, social, and leadership skills required to compete at the collegiate level. Following her graduation, Julie stayed close to home to gain two years of valuable experience playing at Glendale Community College, where she assisted her team to qualify for playoffs both seasons.
Following a series of meet and greets with the Lions’ Head Coach Garth Mortis, Julie was ready for, as she says, “something completely different.” Coach Mortis was certain that Mireles would be a good character fit for his team’s environment, and her experience at the point guard position as well as her excellent ball-handling skills were greatly needed on his team.
An important factor for Mireles’s decision was the extra year of eligibility which she would gain by playing in Canada; one more year to play basketball was enough to convince her to sacrifice the heat of Arizona and test out a cold Canadian winter!
Currently studying in the Behavioural Science program and running the floor from the point guard position, Julie is not regretting her decision to head North! Coach Mortis is very pleased with the addition of this new “Floor General” to the Lions’ roster. He believes that her composure on offense and good ball distribution will be key components in the team’s success. As the starting point guard for the Lions, Mireles hopes to point her team to victory through confident leadership and intentional on-court communication.
While young Julie was watching her sister play in Arizona, Daniella Matich’s love for the game was sprouting up in the North. The daughter of a SAIT basketball alumnus, Daniella started to play in the fourth grade. She went on to play three competitive years at Notre Dame High School in Calgary where basketball was her predominant athletic focus. As high school graduation approached, Matich made the decision to stay home in Calgary and was recruited to be a Lion when the basketball program was still part of the ACAL (Alberta Colleges Athletic League).
Now a third-year Biology major, Daniella says that she has dreamt of being a grade one teacher since the time that she herself was in grade one! Initially, she planned to only play her first two years with the Lions, but she's now committed to completing her degree at Ambrose University and continuing to develop as an athlete.
DeeDee, as she is commonly known by her teammates, was a dominant defensive player and a top scorer in the ACAL. Coach Mortis says that she has become a better all-around player, showcasing her athleticism and versatility as the team has made their move up to the ACAC (Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference). In preparation for her new Assistant Captain role this season, she dedicated much time over the summer to improving her mental game and focus.
About her role on the team this year, Matich says, “as Assistant Captain people look to me to lead by example so I have to make sure that I play with intensity at every practice and help out the rookies.” A dominant defender, talented three-point shooter and loyal teammate, Matich will be a crucial weapon for the Lions this season.
Only a few weeks into their regular season play, the Lions have played a few close games but are yet awaiting their first victory. Coach Mortis says that all the girls have fallen into their roles well and that team dynamics have improved this year, alongside the overall talent level of the athletes.
Although the Lions are lacking in height, they plan to emphasize their speed by increasing the pace of their offense, while minimizing turnovers and maximizing defensive intensity. The 2016/17 Lions Women’s Basketball team thrives on trust, determination and accountability. The athletes are unified by their common goal of qualifying for the ACAC Provincial Championships, which will take place at Lethbridge College on March 1-4, 2017.
Go Lions Go!
- Madyson Kerr
“Pursuing Excellence. Building Family. Becoming Disciples.”