Alyssa Gaukel, in both a literal and figurative way, has helped to lay the foundation for the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball program.
Gaukel was head coach Al Tuchscherer’s first recruit when the Cascades jumped from the collegiate ranks to Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) five years ago. No other UFV hoopster – male or female – can say they’ve been around for the program’s entire CIS tenure.
It’s also technically accurate to refer to the Envision Athletic Centre, UFV’s home gym, as The House That Alyssa Built.
Back in 2007, Gaukel worked with her dad’s rebar company for the summer, and the company won a bid to work on the gym’s foundation.
“She’s a special player in our program,” Tuchscherer said of Gaukel, who plays her final home games as a Cascade this weekend, as UFV hosts the Brandon Bobcats.
“She’s been a big reason why we’ve had so much success this year.”
Gaukel’s five-year run with the Cascades has been a bit of a roller-coaster.
When she joined the program out of Chilliwack Secondary for the 2006-07 season, she was the lone freshman on a very experienced team that would make two consecutive Canada West playoff appearances.
After two years of deferring to her elders, Gaukel suddenly found herself cast in the role of veteran after heavy graduation losses. Her transition into the leadership role, both on and off the court, has peaked this season, as she helped the Cascades clinch a playoff spot after a two-year absence.
She’s fourth in team scoring (8.5 points per game) and third in rebounding average (4.1).
With her final home games looming, Gaukel said it’s a case of mixed emotions.
“It’s a little bit of sadness, a little bit of excitement,” she said, alluding to the fact that there will be playoff games ahead. “It went by super-fast. It doesn’t feel like it’s been a five-year journey.”
A big part of Gaukel’s legacy at UFV pertains to her work ethic. She’s spent countless hours in the gym honing her shot, and her .330 percentage from three-point range is good for 14th in Canada West this season.
“We always talk about her at our camps,” Tuchscherer said. “We tell kids that if you want to be a good shooter, you’ve got to be like Alyssa.”
— The Cascades basketball teams host Brandon tonight (women 6 p.m. and men 8 p.m.) and tomorrow (women 5 p.m. and men 7 p.m.). The UFV women (10-12) have already secured a playoff berth, and are looking to clinch the No. 7 seed. The Cascade men (8-14) are chasing the Calgary Dinos and Manitoba Bisons for the final Canada West playoff spot.