Whatever Wierks: Sibling duo lends intensity to UFV women’s hoops squad

When UFV women's basketball coach Al Tuchscherer wants to boost the level of intensity at practice, he has a simple solution.

Chilliwack natives Nicole and Sarah Wierks are the frontcourt pillars of the UFV women’s basketball team.

Chilliwack natives Nicole and Sarah Wierks are the frontcourt pillars of the UFV women’s basketball team.

When University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball coach Al Tuchscherer wants to boost the level of intensity at practice, he has a simple solution.

He puts Nicole and Sarah Wierks on opposite teams.

Frequently, sparks fly between the siblings, who comprise the Cascades’ starting frontcourt. It’s not the product of ill will – it’s just that when you’ve got two players who are as gritty as sandpaper, it tends to create a bit of friction.

“They’re always out to sort of one-up each other,” Tuchscherer said with a chuckle. “Sometimes it gets physical, sometimes they chirp at each other a little bit. But it’s all good. It’s never from the wrong place.

“I’ve never had that dynamic before on a team, so it’s interesting, for sure.”

The Wierks sisters say they come by their competitive streak honestly. If their parents, Dennis and Debbie Wierks of Chilliwack, happen to be watching one of their road games online, they’re liable to yell at the computer screen if a controversial call goes the wrong way.

For the girls, that intense mentality means they’re usually leading the Cascades in bruises and floor burns.

“We just have a need to be wherever the ball is,” Sarah explained. “If the ball’s on the ground, we’re going after it. We fall so much.”

“We don’t fall,” Nicole interjected, correcting her sister. “We dive for the ball. There’s a big difference!”

Nicole, age 20, is the older of the two. In her third year with the Cascades, the 5’10” power forward is staging a breakout campaign – she leads the team in scoring at 13.3 points per game, and she’s second to Sarah in rebounding, hauling down an average of 7.0 boards.

Tuchscherer appreciates Nicole as much for her defensive ability as her scoring.

“She’s absolutely a lockdown defender,” he said. “I can have Nicole defend anyone in Canada West, whether that’s Diane Schuetze from Thompson Rivers, a big 6’3″ post, or Debbie Yeboah from UVic, who’s arguably the quickest point guard in the conference.”

Nicole’s success is all the more impressive considering she’s playing without the benefit of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee. She’s torn her ACL twice – once during her Grade 11 year at Chilliwack Secondary, and again prior to her rookie year at UFV. Rather than undergo reconstructive surgery, she’s elected to simply wear a knee brace.

“Tearing it again isn’t really a risk I want to take at this point,” she explained. “If I feel I need to get it done after basketball’s over, I’ll do that.

“It gets stiff and sore sometimes, but that’s to be expected – it would get stiff and sore anyway.”

Sarah, a 19-year-old sophomore centre who stands 6’1″, followed her sister to the Abbotsford campus last fall, and was an instant sensation. She earned Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) all-rookie honours after averaging 10.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. This season, she’s posting averages of 10.0 points and 9.5 boards. The latter total is second-best in Canada West.

Last season, the Wierks sisters helped the Cascades to an opening-round playoff upset of the Winnipeg Wesmen, and berths to the Canada West Final Four and the CIS East Regional.

This fall, the UFV women were saddled with some lofty expectations, as they were ranked No. 9 in the preseason. They stumbled out of the gate, suffering a sweep on the road at Thompson Rivers to open the regular season. But they’ve righted themselves recently – on Nov. 26, they upset the No. 5-ranked Alberta Pandas 68-67, and they took a 5-3 conference record into the Christmas break.

The Cascades will be looking to build on that when they return to action next week. They travel to Windsor, Ont. for an exhibition tournament hosted by the defending CIS national champion Windsor Lancers, Dec. 28-30.

Nicole Wierks said that performing well in those games would set a positive tone for the second half of the season.

“We’re really going to need to step it up,” she noted. “We’re really close as a team. We don’t just play for ourselves – we love our coach, and we play for him and for our teammates. We’ve just got to find a way to win.”

Just Posted

Alexis Paige Simpson has not been in contact with her family in two months. (RCMP photo)
Chilliwack RCMP looking for missing 20-year-old woman

Police say Alexis Paige Simpson has not been in contact with her family in two months

RCMP seek dash-cam footage after Chilliwack road rage incident

Male driving a black pickup stopped and allegedly threatened to punch another driver

Deepak Sharma of Abbotsford has been convicted of the sexual assault of one of his cab passengers in West Vancouver in January 2019.
Former Abbotsford Hindu temple president convicted of sexual assault

Deepak Sharma assaulted a female passenger when he was a cab driver

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Agassiz toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Woody’s RV World hosts a grand opening for its brand-new Abbotsford location on Saturday. (YouTube)
Woody’s RV World hosts Abbotsford grand opening on Saturday

First-ever B.C. location for successful RV chain, located on Marshall Road

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

A man makes his way past signage to a mass COVID-19 vaccination centre at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians encouraged to see mRNA shots as interchangeable as more 2nd doses open up

Doctors urge people not to hesitate if offered Moderna after getting Pfizer for their first shot

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read