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March 16, 2023

See How She Got Started: OUA & McMaster University Basketball Player Sarah Gates


See How She Got Started in the OUA

Anchored in the efforts to spotlight Ontario University Athletics (OUA) student-athletes, the initiative See How She Got Started showcases and tells the story of how some of the conference’s talented student-athletes first got involved in sport and have made their way to the varsity stage on which they currently shine.  It is also hoped that their stories can inspire young athletes to aspire to compete in varsity-level sports.



Meet OUA Student-Athlete Sarah Gates 

University - 

McMaster University


Sport -



Year of Eligibility -

5th Year


Hometown - 

Newmarket, Ontario 


Program of Study - 

Human Behaviour  



How did you first get involved in your sport?

I have an older brother, so I was just trying to compete with him in everything that he did. When he started playing basketball, so did I. I would say it’s gone pretty well since then. 


What most interested you about your sport that made you want to pursue it at a high level?

I have always loved basketball because I found it so fun to play. What made playing at a higher level most intriguing is how it helps you develop not only as an athlete but as an adult. Sport has helped me find my voice and become a leader on and off the court and that’s something I will always be grateful for.  


Was there a specific moment/experience that led you to believe you could compete in your sport at a high level, and if so, what was it?

For me, it was in terms of developing confidence in my game. I was fortunate to have many strong role models and coaches around me who helped me to believe that playing at the next level was an accomplishable goal. I can only hope that through my sports journey that I can act as a strong and positive female role model for the next generation of athletes.  


What is your fondest memory/experience of being involved in your sport thus far?

I would definitely say that winning the National Championship in 2019 with some of the most amazing women I’ve ever met.  


Is there someone who inspires you to continue to pursue your sport at this high level (i.e., coach, professional athlete, family member, etc.) and what makes them an inspiration to you?

I don't know if I can’t just name one person but certainly there are people that stick out as role models to me.   My dad has always been my biggest fan and helped me believe I can do anything I can put my mind to.  Coach Burns has been a huge influence on me as an athlete but even more as a person by helping me find my voice and passions to advocate for women's leadership issues.  Past teammates and my current assistant coach Hilary Hanaka, Linnea Harper and Danielle Boiago have also helped me become the leader I am today.  All three of them haveexemplary leadership styles and have pushed me on the court.


What excites you most about continuing your athletic journey at the varsity level within the OUA?

What excites me the most as an older player is having a good sense of all the opportunities that the OUA can bring us. By helping us become leaders through the power of sport, it always makes me excited to see what my last year can bring. Plus, I would love to win another championship.



What is/are some of the more unique aspect(s) of your sport that others may not know about?

Each division you play in has different rules. For example, high school compared to university or playing in Canada as compared to playing in the United States.   


If someone else was looking to start playing your sport, what one piece of advice would you give them to get them started?

One piece of advice I would give someone is to focus on the little details and always be the hardest working player in the gym. Focusing on these two things - along with having fun - and that will help you reach your potential within the sport of basketball without question.


What is one critical thing that you do to try to continue to experience improvement within your sport (i.e., specific drill/exercise, training regimen, routine, etc.)?

I think in terms of playing basketball itself,  the more repetitions in anything I do the better. Getting more shots up will only improve your shot; dribbling more will help you become a better dribbler; running through sets will help you learn to make more reads; and training hard will always help your fitness.  


What would you say to your 10-year-old self about playing and staying in sport?

I would remind myself to never forget why I started playing, which was to have fun and enjoy the experience. I know as we age, competition gets harder and we get more competitive. But at the end of the day, if you don’t have fun with what you're doing, it will impact how you play physically and mentally and you could fall out of love with the sport.  


Is there one strategy that you find works well for you in creating a positive student/athlete balance in your life?

I think for me, it all comes down to being organized. Finding whatever strategies help you stay organized and on top of your schedule will help you stay in routine. For me, writing things down on lists helps me prioritize what I need to accomplish plus have some time to enjoy life as well.



Head to the SWSCD Athlete Advisor, your online athletic business directory. Find, rate and review programs, local community offerings and businesses that will help you do your thing.  

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Have a sport, recreation or physical activity accomplishment you'd like to celebrate and shout out through SWSCD?  Become a SWSCD member and share your story directly on SeeWhatSheCanDo. Or, simply add the hashtag #seewhatshecando to your public social media posts and SWSCD can help you inspire others around you.


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