When Kiley DeLong made the switch to the University of New Brunswick, she had one goal in mind — to bring the Varsity Reds women’s basketball team back into playoff contention.
DeLong, a St. John’s, N.L. native, transferred to UNB following a stellar three-year career with the St. Francis Xavier X-Women basketball team.
It was academics that initially brought DeLong to the UNB in 2013.
“I had completed the engineering diploma program at StFX, graduated and received my X-Ring,” she explained. “I had to continue on at either UNB or Dalhousie to finish my bachelor’s degree in geological engineering, so I chose to come here.”
DeLong’s decision boded well for UNB’s women’s basketball program, who were coming off a 2-18 record during the 2012-13 season. DeLong, by contrast, had started all but two games for a team that captured the silver medal at the AUS Championships.
In accordance with Canadian Interuniversity Sport regulations, DeLong was required to sit out as a redshirt during the 2013-14 season. Undeterred, she continued to practice with the team, and is thrilled to be back on the court this season.
“Our season has been going really good so far,” she said. “We’ve been doing a lot better than they’ve done in previous years, which is always a good sign. We’ve been constantly improving and we have a really great group of girls who bring a lot to the game.
“Redshirting was very hard for me because I’m a little too competitive to be sitting on the bench. I’m super pumped to be back out on the court and helping my team.”
DeLong believes that having a year off helped her in becoming a stronger and smarter player.
“I put in a lot of work on all aspects of my game, and I think it has been reflected in my play this season. I’m pretty happy with how I’ve played so far.”
UNB head coach Jeff Speedy has also been impressed by DeLong’s development over the years, citing her defending and rebounding skills as some of the best on the team.
“Kiley is arguably our hardest worker and one of our leaders,” Speedy said in a press release following DeLong’s recognition as UNB’s female athlete of the week last month. “Looking at her stats, she is obviously a key contributor on the court as well.”
Just a few weeks ago, DeLong had the opportunity to compete against her former team, an experience she described as “really strange.”
“A lot of my good friends are still on the team, so it was really weird to be on the opposing team,” she admitted.
However, she maintains that her friendships with former teammates remain intact, despite her competitive spirit.
“It’s basketball, so what happens on the court stays on the court.”
DeLong and the V-Reds swept the X-Women at the Currie Center on Nov. 21-22, with DeLong scoring 20 points in two games against her alma mater. She registered 12 points in 12 minutes of action this past Saturday when the Reds visited StFX.
With the first half of the season now behind them, DeLong says the V-Reds are looking to build on their success going into the final stretch.
“We’re obviously hoping to do as well as we can, but our ultimate goal is to make it to playoffs,” she said. “We haven’t qualified here at UNB in a few years, so it’s always in the back of our minds. We want to take care of the games we can win in order to get there.”
DeLong and the Varsity Reds have completed the first portion of their season and will be regrouping in mid-December when they travel to Miami for exhibition play. Their regular season resumes Jan. 9 when they host Saint Mary’s.