A stress fracture might have interrupted her progress, but Cork basketball standout Edel Thornton has put any thoughts of home to the back of her mind as she compiles an impressive first season in US college ball with the Quinnipiac Bobcats in Connecticut.
Q: Give us a quick sense of how your first season as a freshman is going with Quinniapac?
A: “It has been a mixture between what I expected and some shocks, to be honest. The training sessions are exactly like I thought they would be — intense yet motivating. Being a freshman, you always play with a chip on your shoulder. People from other teams don’t expect much of you, but your teammates expect you to do what they do, which is a good thing. And that is most certainly the case with our team. Everyone is extremely supportive and they encourage with every play; picking me up if I get a turnover and pushing me to take the shot.”
Q: Are you getting more or less court time than you anticipated, because games are pretty regular there, right?
A: “This was the thing that shocked me the most. I knew coming here that I would have to train and play harder than I was already doing at home to even hope to see the floor. I never believed that I would be playing as much as I am. At the moment I’m recovering from an injury which had me sidelined for six weeks but before the injury I had started multiple games and was playing more than 15 minutes a game, which for me is a dream come true!”
Q: Give us an idea of what the standard is like in your Conference, compared to what you faced at home?
A: “The standard is very strong and that is the reason I came here. I feel like I’m playing in a National Cup final against Glanmire every time I take the floor. You have to bring intensity and effort to every single game, if you don’t do that, you will quickly find yourself 10 points down.”
Q: What kind of travel is involved to away games? Are they all within an hour or two, or is there overnights?
A: “We do a lot of our travelling over winter break so we don’t miss too many classes and so the longest we would drive (by coach) to a game for the remaining season would be about two hours. We did travel to Niagara over break which is normally an eight-hour drive but in the snow, it took even longer. However our furthest game was in Florida on December 28. I was actually at home in Cork for four days just before we all travelled down there on St Stephen’s Day. So I started travelling at 4am that morning and that trip took almost 20 hours.”
Q: Tell us more about the sports programmes in Quinn? Is there a strong basketball history in the college?
A: “In the school, our women’s basketball are pretty recognised as we are coming off a championship season. We have a strong reputation and continue to carry on the tradition of our “gold rush action”, which is when the coach subs all five players off replacing them with a new five after three to four minutes of play. Our ice hockey teams have been hugely successful in the past and are doing really well again this season.”
Q: How does that gold rush system work for ye? What is the advantages of it?
A: “It wouldn’t work for many teams but the fact we have a lot of players capable of playing, I see it as an advantage. We don’t get as tired as other teams because we do our best for
four to five minutes and know when we come off, the next five is going to do their very best too.”
Q: I’ve seen pictures of the Arena, it looks class. What sort of numbers do ye get at games?
A: “The facilities here at TD Banks is incredible. We have a fully equipped weights room along with an amazing training room for the players with injuries. The arena itself is obviously huge and so is very hard to fill but we get a lot more supporters than a lot of other women’s programmes. The people of the surrounding area have been very supportive the past season and no doubt with our seven-win game streak, they’ll continue to support.”
Q: There’s a big debate here about coverage of women’s sport? What’s your experience there in that regard?
A: “Well, I would think that here, women’s sports are a lot more supported than at home but still men have the upper hand.”
Q: Tell us about the injury?
A: “I have been suffering with that leg since last year but I sat out a few games last season and it cleared up but in early December I managed to get a stress fracture during practice, which sidelined me for six weeks. It was extremely frustrating but with the help of Rebecca Mella, our team physio and Coach B, our strength and conditioning coach, they kept me entertained and busy making me stronger in areas I needed to work on.”
Q: Are you keeping up with the results from home? Brunell are having an up and down season...
A: “Yeah I’m always on twitter keeping up to date and yes, I’ve seen a few bad losses but the best time to peak is when play-off comes around — so let’s just wait and see. It was a great boost for the Under 18s to win the cup in such dramatic circumstances — winning it for the third time in four years means an awful lot to Brunell and augurs well for the future of the club.”
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