There isn’t a lot Jenna Kantz can’t do.
Take Saturday night for example. The UBC Okanagan Heat women’s basketball team are leading the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves by six in the last minute.
Heat coach Heather Semeniuk decides to call a timeout and in the huddle, says: “I need to remind you that this game is really important to win and it looks like you’re going to win it. You got to remember that if we don’t beat them by more than seven then they will still hold onto third spot. I think that’s what we want right? Isn’t that our goal to take over third spot?”
“They went back out on the court and guess who scored the next layup?” said Semeniuk, rhetorically. “Going faster than I had ever seen. It was an assist, a pass and she just took the ball to the hoop hard.”
The speech lit the appropriate fire and the Heat won 88-78.
Laughing as she talked about the incident, Semeniuk added, “She takes care of business.”
In that first quarter against the Timberwolves, Kantz hit the record books when she scored her 788th career point, passing Mandy Trenholm (currently the team’s assistant coach) for the team’s all-time scoring lead. Kantz finished with a game-high 27 points giving her 816 points in her five-year career with the Heat.
Before Kantz decided to pursue basketball at the collegiate level, she also played soccer. Growing up in Penticton, the Princess Margaret Secondary School grad was talented enough to play both sports competitively. However, loving Michael Jordan and dreaming about playing basketball at a higher level led to her decision. A decision that Semeniuk is glad she made since she would love to have several Kantz’s. Semenkiuk said her captain is “huge” to the team.
“She can do things that other kids can’t do,” said Semeniuk. “She’s the whole package. She is the best player personality that you’d ever want on a team with her on-court presence and demeanor. All you get from her is full competitive spirit. She doesn’t react to anything negative. If she’s having a game that’s not quite up to par, which is not very often this year, she knows to play through it.”
Kantz is described as a caring person, who is sweet and loved by her teammates.
“She’s sensitive. She doesn’t try to upstage anybody, very modest,” said Semeniuk.
As humble as she is, Kantz didn’t mind being recognized with one of Sport Kelowna’s 2011 Community Sport Hero awards.
“It was really exciting to be recognized,” said Kantz, who has helped the heat win two provincial championships and finish third in another. “One of our coaches had sent in the application form. My whole team came to the Capri to support me. That was really neat. It was nice to have someone else recognize the commitment and time that I have put into that.”
And that’s something that may not be easy for just anyone. While striving to be the best on the court for the Heat, Kantz has also been driven to become a nurse. With a 95 per cent average, Kantz has also been working at the Kelowna hospital. Juggling her duties to help others and sinking baskets hasn’t been a problem. A large reason it has worked is from the support she receives from hospital co-workers and Semeniuk. There was a day when Kantz was forced to miss a practice.
“That really upset her,” said Semeniuk. “To the point of crying. It really bothered her that she couldn’t be there with the team.”
Kantz also gets involved with her teammates when they go into the community and interact with younger kids. It’s something Semeniuk said the five-foot-eight guard loves to do and shows all the reasons why she is perfect for nursing.
With the Heat entering its final weekend of regular season action, Kantz, who averages 19.87 points per game, good for third in the B.C. Colleges Athletic Association, would like nothing more than finishing her career with a provincial title. Maybe even a national champion.
If her efforts like the one she put on the court against the Timberwolves is any indication, there isn’t anything opponents can do to stop Kantz.