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March 16, 2023

See How She Got Started: OUA & University of Waterloo Basketball Player Summer Pahl


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 Summer Pahl

University - 

University of Waterloo


Sport -



Year of Eligibility -

5th Year


Hometown - 

Kitchener, Ontario 


Program of Study - 




How did you first get involved in your sport?

Originally, I was a competitive dancer going into my 10th season when some teachers at my elementary school asked if I wanted to try out for the basketball team.  To be fair, I was like 5'6" tall at the age of ten so I can see why they were asking. I was hesitant at first considering all I knew was dance and that world.  But when I told my mom she was like why not. So I played that year and while still continuing to dance. Along the way I fell in love with the game of basketball. Initally, I wasn't very good, but I was coordinated so that was a plus. From there, I transitioned from wanting to bedazzle my first basketball jacket like I did my dance outfits to where I am now as an elite level player. I'm thankful for those two elementary teachers who found me on the school yard. Who knows what path I would have been on if they hadn't given me my start in the game and believed in me so heavily. 


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

What made me want to pursue my sport at a high level had to do with a combination of a number of things. For starters, I wanted to be like my dad.  He had played Division 1 football in collage and I wanted to be like him. He helped me realize that sports can take you so many places. This belief enabled me to play in Georgia for 2.5 years before heading to the University of Waterloo to play.

I also loved the roll models I had at a younger age. The girls older then me in my basketball club made me want to be like them. I wanted to be good enough that maybe one day someone would want to play like me and see me in the same way I looked up to the older girls who I wanted to be like.

Lastly, my education and experiences shaped my interest in wanting to play at a high level. I wanted the experience of going somewhere outside of Canada to pursue my basketball dreams. I wanted to have the experience of the fans, the hard workouts, having a different lifestyle, NCAA tournaments and big games against top schools that I learned about when my dad and I would watch college basketball together. I also knew that I needed to have access to those experiences if I was going to be able to help other girls looking to play at an elite level.


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?

I would say my determination to not let the no's deter me from wanting to be good. I was passionate even when people didn't believe in me. I wanted to play, compete and play against the best so bad. The fire inside of me to play at the highest level is what made me realize I could go far if I wanted it.   


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

One of my fondest memories was playing Iowa in the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament my freshman year. It was the most amazing thing I ever experienced.  It was always a goal of mine to play in an NCAA Tournament. Walking out onto the floor and seeing all the cheerleaders, band members along with our family and friends that had come from Georgia was just so much fun. It was basically a sold out game with 8,000-10,000 people in the stands for a women's basketball game. I was literally in awe. It was so loud and so much was going on in the arena. We couldn't even hear our coaches. The game was close and one to remember for sure. My dad and little brother came to watch which was great because they are some of my favourite people. I just couldn't fathom the amount of people that came to the game, the plane ride, and having my family in the stands. It was just an amazing experience. 


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 wouldn't say there was one specific person that I felt inspired my choice to continue my sport at a high level. But there have been lots of people who have been important in my drive to go further. I've had an amazing basketball coach.


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

What excites me is the most is finishing where I started with teammates I really care about and with a coaching staff that feels like home. I have had the privilege of finishing my last 2 years in the OUA at the University of Waterloo after playing my first two years at Mercer University in Georgia. I can't tell you how much your environment matters to your success as an individual and as a team. 

It also excites me that this year I am graduating with my best friends, with teammates I had in high school; with girls i really care about; in the city where basketball started for me; with coaches I have known for years some of whom were former players in the same club team as me and their dad coached me in high school.

On top of the personal connection playing in the OUA has had for me, I think it is also amazing to see the competition level rising for Canada basketball and it means more girls coming back from being in the US to finish their varsity years as well as more girls deciding to stay in Canada overall. I am excited to compete at a high level and the fast pace that women's varsity basketball brings.

I think it is special to be a varsity athlete while balancing so many aspects of life and competing at a high level. When you put lifts, runs, practice, meetings, film, school, jobs, family and friends in the mix, you realize how special varsity athletes really are since you have to manage and balance so much more.

It excites me in numerous ways, that this is my last year and I am so thankful for the place I am at and the progress we have made in a short time as a program. It's also given me the courage to want to continue basketball even after university. 



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

I would say a unique thing about the sport is how many little things change in the rules when you play Canadian Basketball versus Basketball in the United States. There are many rule differences including with the clock, the 3-point line between the men's and women's games, and the amount of people you can have line up on free throws. I don't think people realize how much these rule differences can change the game and how much faster Women's OUA basketball is.    


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

The advice I would give to someone looking to start playing basketball is to not let the No's in your journey deter you from your goals and dreams.  Know that the journey to success is not linear and there will be good days and bad days. But just because one person doesn't see the great things you offer doesn't mean there isn't greatness there. So work hard and always believe in yourself. 


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 finding a balance within your sport is really important. Balancing on court and off court training is really crucial. Working on speed and agility but also power in the weight room as well. I have really enjoyed adding more explosive and powerful movements to my workouts. I think just learning how to do things in the weight room that are sport specific; learning to how take care of your body and the importance of stretching has helped me improve in my sport. 


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

I would tell my 10-year-old self that everything works out eventually.  That you will find your place once you start playing basketball - that the shy, quiet, out-of-place lanky tall kid will find her place. And it will be a place where she is good at what she does and it will result in you becoming the exact opposite to how you used to be. You're loud and powerful and you have truly found you place.  Basketbal has given you your voice so keep at it and know that you're going to go places.     


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

A key organizational tool for me is a google calendar. As simple as it sounds, I use it to block out all my workouts, meetings and classes. I also put block out time to spend with friends and family in my Google Calendar to be sure I have a good balance and I don't miss things. The Calendar also helps me to carve out time in my schedule for myself so I don't burn out. 



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