(FREDERICTON, NB) The road that led Emily MacLeod away from home has brought her back.
After four seasons with the Acadia Axewomen, the Fredericton High School product will play her fifth and final season of U SPORTS basketball with the UNB Varsity Reds.
“The opportunity to play on this year’s Varsity Reds team was too much to pass up,” says MacLeod. “I kind of fell into a position where I was eligible after a hard last year at Acadia.”
The 6’1” forward played in 51 regular season games over four seasons with the Axewomen, but only seven games last season.
“I didn’t realize how much I missed the game until I picked it back up,” says MacLeod. “And getting to play with some girls that I’ve known in different capacities for a number of years is pretty special.”
“I got an e-mail, out of the blue, from her on August 23rd,” says Varsity Reds head coach Jeff Speedy. That e-mail expressed MacLeod’s desire to play her final season of U SPORTS eligibility.
For Speedy, it was the second such surprise in less than a week.
Earlier, Nicole Esson had declared her intention to return to the team, ending a short-lived retirement.
“I’ve never had anything like this happen so late,” says Speedy. “To get two great players and people a week before we started was unreal. I should have bought a lottery ticket.”
MacLeod graduated from Acadia last spring and had planned to attend another school, but circumstances and some self-reflection led her home.
As a veteran of four Atlantic University Sport seasons, she’s looking at the coming season as a gift.
“It's funny because I thought my time had run out and now I've been given the chance to get back,” says MacLeod. “Coming as close as I have with the girls at Acadia to an AUS banner has made me hungry to finish with one. However, joining a new team presents new challenges that will make my approach to this coming season different.”
Speedy sees the veteran forward taking on a substantial role with his team.
“I was concerned a bit about our size,” says Speedy. “She certainly helps solve that issue, but more importantly I expect her to be a scorer and distribute the ball. Her experience and leadership will also be huge for us.”
“Playing at home will be pretty amazing,” says MacLeod. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been a part of the Fredericton basketball community. I know there are a lot of loyal followers in this city, and I’m excited to be part of it again.”
MacLeod will pull on a Varsity Reds uniform for the first time on September 29th, when UNB hosts Laval in their opening game of the 2017 Helen Campbell Tournament, at the Richard J. Currie Centre.
It’s unclear if Coach Speedy has purchased a lottery ticket.