Chris Simpson

Semper letteris mandate

Gull Lake coach Champigny Lucyk stresses “class” in girls basketball

Pacing, yelling and throwing herself on the floor are only a few of the ways Gull Lake School’s principal Champigny Lucyk shows her love for the team.


“How do I coach?” says Chantie Champigny Lucyk. “Loudly. I coach the way I was coached.”

Basketball is a passion for Champigny Lucyk, who played throughout high school.

“I played everything,” she says, “but focused on basketball. I played volleyball while waiting for basketball to start.”

In Grade 9 her team got to provincials, and they were undefeated in the province in Grade 11 and 12. She also played while attending college in Quebec, and played city in Saskatoon. Before coming to Gull Lake she coached five years in Dismore (senior boys and girls) and Elrose (senior girls).

Last year her Gull Lake seniors won district, but she’s not expecting that from this year.

“It’s a young team, Grades 9 and 10 against 11 and 12s.”

This doesn’t phase her at all, however. “We call it a ‘building year.’ We’re building speed and confidence. We’re not looking to win a championship, but when current Grade 10s are in Grade 12 we should have a chance.”

At present they’ve played four games this season with two wins and two losses. The wins were against Maple Creek, whose team is also young.

“We were spanked by Herbert,” she says, “but they’re big girls. It’s hard for the girls when skill levels are so different. The Maple Creek coach and I agree that it’s good for our teams to play against each other. My girls are getting better without being embarrassed.”

Although they won against Maple Creek both times, the scores were satisfactorily close. “The lead went back and forth several times during the game.”

The Gull Lake team’s primary strength lies in running.

“We beat Maple Creek by outrunning them,” Champigny Lucyk explains. “I sub every two minutes so they’re always fresh. Erika Vallee (the present top scorer) also plays hockey. She’s in really good shape. We may not be the tallest or fastest, but we’re in the best shape.”

Practice is twice a week for an hour and a half.  One of her players comes from Cabri, but her mother drives her out for each practice

Champigny Lucyk says that while she’s a loud coach, it’s only to make herself heard.

“When you’re on the court you can’t always see what’s going on. I can see the whole game, though. So I’m always yelling, ‘Behind you!’ ‘Over here – come over here!’”

She also makes sure the girls know that she backs them and appreciates their efforts.

“After the game we talk it out in the van or locker room. I tell each player what they did well and what they need to improve. A couple of the girls could play city if they wanted to.”

Her coaching style apparently also draws some attention from the spectators.

“People laugh because I fall on the floor when things go wrong, I yell.”

But the primary aim of Champigny Lucyk’s coaching has less to do with the sport than with sportsmanship.

“We stress playing with class.” And what is class? “It’s trying, no matter what. When they were down 60 points, getting the crap beat out of them, they were still smiling and trying to score every time they got the ball. That’s class. And if one of my girls doesn’t – if she yells or hits another player – then she sits it out. Even if it’s my best player. Basketball is tough. People consider it a non-contact sport, but they get banged around a lot under the hoop. They turn an ankle, get punched in face, but they pick up and go.”

There are two more games scheduled against Maple Creek, and Champigny Lucyk is hoping to have at least one of them here so Gull Lake residents can watch without having to drive out of town.

“The problem is getting refs,” she says. “Maple Creek has refs, but we’re short. Some of my girls went to ref clinic. It’s tough – you need to know the game.  Chinook offers free ref clinic in Swift Current. The refs we have are wanting to retire.”

The referee situation is getting serious for Gull Lake, and Champigny Lucyk would really like to see a few more people getting involved. When I suggest that it may be because the position is volunteer she is surprised.

“Not at all. We pay mileage plus $20 a game. Not bad for one hour and 15 minutes. And we pay $35 if you’re certified.”

If anyone is interested, please contact Chantle Champigny Lucyk at 672-4186. She would be more than happy to help guide people into becoming future coaches.

Originally published in The Gull Lake Advance, Jan. 28, 2013


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