BY Mike Barrett
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. - A changing of the seasons outdoors closely parallels a changing of the seasons indoors at the Ronald "Bud" Cooper Gymnasium.
With falling leaves quickly being covered by snow, the sports season on the calendar at Lake Superior State has transitioned to winter, meaning basketball has taken the floor in the Cooper Gym.
Looking to lead the women's basketball team this season is a core of seniors, including Morgan Villemure.
A senior from Flat Rock, Michigan, located just south of Metro Detroit, Villemure was unfamiliar with Lake Superior State until she was recruited by the former coaching staff.
"I honestly hadn't heard of LSSU 'til they started recruiting me the summer going into my senior year," she said. "After I visited here, I realized I really liked the scenery of the campus and the location. I always saw myself at a college a decent way from home, and LSSU was that for me, being five hours away, and it was nice because it was still located in Michigan. I also liked that the class sizes were smaller than most colleges offer."
Basketball runs in the family, as Villemure's mother played at Henry Ford Community College for one season, while her father received offers to play both basketball and baseball at the college level. In addition, Morgan's older sister Paige played at Wayne State, one of Lake Superior's foes in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC).
"My sister Paige is only a year older than me," she explained, "so this year is the only year I won't be playing against her when we play Wayne State. Last season when we played them was probably the most competitive game between us because we both played a lot of minutes and, with her position changing and her also playing a center, we guarded each other most of the game…it was always fun to see her and play against her since most of my life I played with her."
Like many students who go to college, Villemure changed majors early on. She was originally looking into marine biology, but eventually settled on marketing.
"After realizing [marine biology] wasn't for me, I changed majors a few times, just to try something I enjoyed," she remarked. "I had to take an elective on business and I thought that class was really interesting so I meant with a business advisor and after some talking, we realized marketing would be a good fit for me.
"My favorite thing about marketing is learning what makes an advertisement work and what doesn't," she added. "The advertising side of it had always been interesting because I am someone who loves and knows a lot about media so seeing things come to life on those platforms is really cool to me."
Although she does not currently have a minor, Villemure has explored adding an accounting minor. With the core curriculum shared by all of the business degrees at Lake State, much of the minor is built into her marketing major.
"While taking marketing classes, I had to take some accounting classes, and I learned I really like accounting," she said. "I'm actually still debating if I am going to minor in it because it would make me stay an extra semester, and I am not sure if that is something I want to do yet."
Like many student athletes, Villemure found her sport at an early age. With basketball running in the family, it only seemed natural that she take it up as well.
"I first started playing basketball when I was in first grade," she said. "My dad also was the JV coach of our high school team and he actually ran, and still does run, our youth recreation league for girls in our town. So from first grade to sixth, I played in that league with my dad being my coach."
Villemure played a number of sports growing up, such as soccer, softball and volleyball in addition to basketball. Over time, basketball emerged as her primary sport, although she continued some of them all the way through high school.
"Growing up I was really into soccer and softball," she explained. "After I took a softball to the face in fifth grade though, I put that sport behind me and got into volleyball. I played travel soccer up until ninth grade but since I decided basketball was my number one sport, I stopped soccer because the season was during travel season for basketball. In high school, I did volleyball, basketball and track. My senior year in track, I actually went to states for discus which was pretty cool."
Although Lake Superior is still searching for its first winning record since the 2010-11 season, the team has made strides, improving its win total under head coach Brandon Lokken, now in his third season at the helm of the women's team.
"Last year, we won twice as many games the year before and I believe it was always the most wins women's basketball have had in a few years. The fact that each year I've been here our program just keeps growing is a great highlight."
Coach Lokken commented that Villemure "is a very smart player that has a great understanding of the game. She is quick to pick up anything we put in and does a great job of knowing the scouting report on other teams. It is fun to work with someone who has such a high basketball IQ."
With this being her final year of eligibility, Villemure is looking to make the most of her last season with the Lakers and, in all likelihood, her ultimate year at Lake Superior State.
"I know I am really going to miss Lake State once I leave it. Not many of my friends are from the same area as me, so it's going to be weird going from seeing their faces everyday to rare occasions. The Soo has become a second home to me and my team has become a second family…I just want to enjoy my time left here with my friends and have a great last season with my team."
The women's basketball team is set to open GLIAC play this week as the Lakers host Ashland on Thursday, Dec. 5 at 5:30 p.m. and Wayne State on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 1:00 p.m. in the Bud Cooper Gymnasium.
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