By Sean Rooney on February 9, 2018.
If you had to picture one athlete to represent the Medicine Hat College Rattlers from the past decade, Kennedy Werre would be it.
Hometown girl. Great work ethic. Leader of her team. Active in the community.
Oh, and as of a couple weeks ago, record-holder for the most career rebounds in Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference history.
Werre passed former teammate MJ Ritchie during a January game at St. Mary’s Jan. 19. Ritchie —who finished her career at the Calgary school last year — pulled in 921 in 106 games. Werre, now at 983, will likely hit four figures before she’s done.
The fifth-year forward is already fearing her final home game —not this weekend as the Rattlers host Briercrest (tonight 6 p.m., Saturday 1 p.m.), but when they wind up against SAIT Feb. 17. There will be tears. There will be extra applause. And it’ll be well-earned.
“It’s going to be good,” says Werre, now 22 and a year away from a teaching degree, but at the end of her five years of athletic eligibility. “It went by so fast. I remember being a little first year, stepping on the court for my very first game.”
It’s not often a record this big is broken in the ACAC, but Werre’s averaged a double-double since her second year. In fact, with 1,341 points she’s also seventh in career ACAC scoring. Only 5-foot-10 and more of a Dennis Rodman stature than the traditional big body in the paint, she credits hard work and basketball IQ for getting her the monumental numbers. But it’s not what’s driving her —not with the Rattlers ranked ninth nationally and looking to finish strong.
“It’s a highlight, for sure, but I think winning means more,” says Werre. “It’s a team sport, that’s why you play. But it’s cool to have your name written in a book somewhere, something I can say for the rest of my life.
“But the winning is what I want to top it all off.”
Ask teammates and coaches about the captain, and the answers are similar.
“She works her butt off, so it makes you want to work your butt off,” says third-year teammate Rachel Sherven. “She made me better.
“When people see the Rattlers, they see Kennedy’s face.”
“Individually there isn’t more she could really do,” adds head coach Clayton Nielsen.
Assistant coach Rob Grisonich might not have come to the program were it not for Werre and the platoon of locals on the roster at the time. Then again, those locals might not have gone as far in the sport without him. Grisonich remembers encouraging Werre to start playing basketball when she was 10 years old.
“You just see some kids that have that work ethic right away, they want to learn and get better,” said Grisonich. “It’s been a great ride. It’s not often you get to be with a person that great, that loves the game, that works out hard… that leader.”
As a player, Werre leads by example. Sherven remembers being inspired the first time they met, the newly-minted captain telling her “if you work hard, you can make a big difference here.”
It seems those leadership skills won’t be wasted going forward, either. Werre loves coaching, even if she’s scared of not heading to the court as a player down the road.
“I’m such a competitive person, I’ve got to find something new I can compete in,” she says. “It’s a new chapter; it’s not sad, but it is.”
Leadership has grown on her in the same way she’s grown on the Rattlers. She’s more aware of it now, cogniscant that what she does on and off the court reflects on her school.
She’d be working hard anyways. But the added responsibility might have pushed her into the stratosphere of college athletes.
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