By JARROD POTTER
A CAVALCADE of awards returned with Renae Mokrzycki from her first two years of American college basketball – but what she most appreciates was the complete experience.
Mokrzycki, 20, from Cranbourne North, finished up her North Idaho College basketball career with an armful of awards – First Team All- Scenic West Athletic Conference (SWAC) honours, Region 18 All-Tournament honours, North Idaho College Female Athlete of the Year and Cardinals’ Most Valuable Player.
The awards are humbling but most importantly for her was the time Mokrzycki spent in Coeur d’Alene and the experience gained in her inaugural years.
“Just the experience – it’s something that not a lot of people get an opportunity to do and to go over to the states and get a game that I love, the experience itself is something to look back on,” Mokrzycki said.
“I had a good season compared to my freshman season – as a season I think I put everything I could into North Idaho and I don’t think I left on a bad note and I put everything I could.
“Even though I’m leaving (the team) I’m not saying goodbye – I will still get to see my host family and some of the girls and it’s good to still be nearby.”
She’ll shift to NCAA’s Division 1 competition next season when she takes her first steps on court as a University of Idaho and its high-ranking women’s basketball team – the Vandals.
Dreams of March Madness – the American college basketball system’s premier national tournament – now flood Mokrzycki’s mind and just making it into the tournament would be a thrill.
“My team made March Madness last season,” she said.
“They played a top team and lost, but making it into the NCAA tournament is a dream now.
“First it was to go to college, now it’s March Madness and if I got that opportunity I’d be the happiest girl and it would be absolutely amazing.”
The worst part about being at home for Mokrzycki is watching her former Casey Cavaliers team mates take to the court without her as she’s been told to focus on her college basketball instead.
Mokrzycki has been told by Vandals coaches that she’ll be expected to play at the three-spot (small forward) and she’s relished the chance to expand her repertoire and gain more versatility for when she returns to Australia.
She’s keeping busy by working on her game – attending training sessions at the Andrew Bogut Basketball Academy – and working as a part-time coach at Scotch College.
With a list of thanks as long as her achievements, Mokrzycki said she thanked everyone who stood by her in the first two years of her college career – especially her host family – the Kinsons – her coaches – Chris and Kerry Carlson – and especially her mum for her continued support.