After three years with Griffins womens’ basketball team, Janzen’s off to U of A
The forward played her last game for Grant MacEwan University on March 5 in the Alberta Colleges Athletics Conference (ACAC) championship game, a 63-59 loss to the Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves.
The Griffins couldn’t hold on to a 16-point fourth-quarter lead and finished four points away from advancing to the national championship tournament.
“I think part of it was inexperience,” she said. “We had a very young team and I think, mentally, it was very tough in a high-pressure situation to stay focused.”
As one of just two third- or fourth-year players who were on the Griffins roster the entire season, the Paul Kane High School graduate said she tried to act as a teacher and mentor to the younger players on the team.
“I know coming in in my first year, I definitely looked up to the third- and fourth-year players for guidance,” Janzen said of Carley Payne and Jill Verhesen. “I know that they helped me adjust to the big jump from high school basketball to college ball, so one of my main goals this year was to be encouraging to our rookies.”
In 2008-09, Janzen’s rookie season, MacEwan posted a 21-3 regular season record before losing to the Lethbridge College Kodiaks in the ACAC final by three points, but they advanced to nationals courtesy of a wildcard berth. The host Cégep de Sainte-Foy team won while MacEwan finished in fifth.
“(It was) definitely surreal, a lot of pressure,” Janzen said. “It was my first year, so it was definitely a big jump and a big achievement, I thought. Not a lot of teams get to experience that, so I was very grateful to experience that for at least one year.”
Looking back on her first three years of university, Janzen said she was happy she chose to join the Griffins.
“I think MacEwan was definitely the best program I could’ve chosen to play basketball in,” she said. “I had two of the best coaches throughout my three years, Jim Lazaruk and Rob Poole. I think both my teammates and my coaches helped me to grow over the three years.”
Now that she’s leaving MacEwan, the six-foot Janzen will be transferring to the University of Alberta. She won’t be trying out for the Pandas, but will be focusing on her school work in anticipation of graduating. She’ll be in regular classes in the fall semester, before going back to elementary school to begin student teaching.
“I’ve actually always known since I was a young girl that I wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “I just like being around people, especially children. I think when I’m around them I have an energy about me and I think children bring out the best in me.”
Janzen got off to a bit of a slow start in her final season, but picked it up as the year progressed, especially after fifth-year post Megan Knowles was no longer on the roster. That put more pressure on the two remaining Griffins at least six feet tall, Janzen and Kristen Monasterski, to provide a strong presence in the paint and pull in rebounds.
“Sarah really stepped up and had a great second half for us,” said Griffins head coach Rob Poole. “Defensively, she really stepped into the role of being a defensive stopper in the post and she played some great games for us. She usually picked up a tough check up front and just did a great job.”
Over the course of the season, Janzen averaged 8.5 points per game (fifth on the team), 5.6 rebounds (second) and totaled five blocks (tied for second).