BURNABY — True story from a Simon Fraser Clan women’s basketball practice last week during the team’s two-game road trip through Alaska.
“We have our starters dress in white and our non-starters dress in blue,” SFU head coach Bruce Langford stated Wednesday. “But (starting forward) Samantha (Beauchamp) still comes in blue. I told her ‘If you come in blue one more time…’ but she just rolls her eyes.”
To which Beauchamp, a near-exclusive career non-starter who just might love coming off the bench more than anyone in the history of the game, replies: “I do not enjoy starting so I’ve gone on strike. I try to show up in blue but it doesn’t work. I guess I don’t really have much of an option.”
On Thursday (7 p.m.), Beauchamp – like it not – will once again hear her name called in the starting line-up as the Clan (6-5, 2-2) return to confines of the West Gym to play their first home GNAC contest of 2019 against the Western Oregon Wolves (4-6, 1-3) as part of a two-game weekend homestead which concludes Saturday (7 p.m.) against Portland’s Concordia Cavaliers (5-7, 0-4).
Now, you’d be correct in assuming that there is a pronounced level of quirkiness in both Langford, now 18 seasons into his Clan head coaching career, and Beauchamp, the 6-foot-3 redshirt senior forward who is returning to the team’s lineup in 2018-19 after last season’s self-imposed one-year hoops sabbatical.
And you’d also be correct in sensing the level of their banter to be light-hearted, respectful and even, in its own quirky way, a little bit inspiring.
Let’s face it, you don’t expect a player who came off the bench in all 34 of her team’s game two seasons ago, averaging 11 minutes and 2.2 points-per-game, to return amidst the rust and not only nearly quadruple her scoring average, but even more impressively, sit tied for eighth in all of NCAA Div. 2 hoops at 3.0 blocks per game.
Yet for a Clan team which was shy of depth and experience in the paint and needing a presence there more than ever, Simon Fraser not only got Samantha Beauchamp back, they got her back better than she ever was.
With 33 blocks through her team’s first 11 overall games, she is just four shy of equalling her entire total of 37 amassed back in 2016-17 when she appeared in 34 games.
Dare we say she is doing a splendid job of policing the paint?
Actually, to pardon the pun she is.
And in a way, you can credit last season’s sabbatical for all of it.
With more time to focus on her post-athletic plans as they pertained to her professional future, the 22-year-old criminology major finally decided to pursue a career in policing.
In fact it was that very choice which motivated the former high school standout with Surrey’s Holy Cross Crusaders to embrace her time in the weight room last year.
“Normally, when you’re in-season, you have to kind of taper and watch how much you are lifting during the season,” begins Beauchamp. “But last year, I didn’t have to do any of that. Instead, I was continually increasing the amount of weight I was pushing.”
Meanwhile, Beauchamp also joined fellow Clan alums like Meg Wilson, Rachel Fradgley and Marie-Line Petit in a national alumni tournament.
“Meg told me how much fun she thought Sam was having and that she felt Sam still wanted to play,” relates Langford. “I had searched high and low for a big post and I still had scholarship money.”
In the end, making the huge commitment to return to the game has helped Beauchamp solidify the precise nature of the common thread which united both policing and team sport.
“The thing that appealed to me about policing was the team work,” says Beauchamp. “I like that a lot, and it was one of the things that I really missed when I wasn’t playing last year.”
Beauchamp’s league totals of 3.3 blocks lead the entire Great Northwest Athletic Conference by a substantial margin.
Nationally, her 3.0 overall blocks-per-game have her tied for eighth with Grace Brady of Point Loma Nazarene and Cassidy Boensch of Grand Valley State.
When you couple all of that with her 7.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, as well as her 80 per cent free throw shooting proficiency, all over a career-high 25.4 minutes per game, you can’t blame Langford for penciling her name into the starting lineup.
“She doesn’t score a lot but she rebounds a ton, she changes shots and her work ethic has gone up,” the coach says. “I think that she has more confidence as a person now and that shows itself on the court. Being older and now stronger, she is able to see the game better.
“Before, she was almost like a buoy in the ocean, wobbling. Now, she is so much more sturdy.”
Her year away from the game seems like time well spent because now that Samantha Beauchamp is back, she’s getting a head start on her professional career by policing in the paint.
If you’re reading this story or viewing these photos on any website other than one belonging to a university athletic department, it has been taken without appropriate permission. In these challenging times, true journalism will survive only through your dedicated support and loyalty. VarsityLetters.ca and all of its exclusive content has been created to serve B.C.’s high school and university sports community with hard work, integrity and respect. Feel free to drop us a line any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.