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.
Year of Eligibility -
Yellowknife, North West Territories
Program of Study -
Philosophy and Political Science
How did you first get involved in your sport?
When I was eleven years old, my best friend at the time convinced me to try out for my middle school basketball team. Her mom ended up being our coach and helped me find my passion. Her mom was so supportive through school basketball and encouraged me to try out for the North West Territories team. And the rest, as they say, is history.
What most interested you about your sport that made you want to pursue it at a high level?
I had always been an active kid doing multiple sports at once. The game of basketball came to me like no other. I played basketball in my hometown of Yellowknife North West Territories for three years. Each year I was rapidly progressing to a point where my coach advised me to leave Yellowknife and pursue sport in the south. So when I was fourteen, I packed my bags and went off to boarding school for better training and competition opportunities. I understood the vision of basketball and it understood me. To this day I find so much peace and comfort in practicing my craft. It gives me a purpose, something to always work towards, and so much happiness.
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?
When I was playing on my grade nine Rep team I was putting up stats like nobody’s business. I had already separated myself from the competition, even dropping 30 points in a British Columbia Independent School Association Finals game that contributed to our team winning the Championship that year. I knew that my hard work was paying off and that if I continued I could without a doubt make it to the next level.
What is your fondest memory/experience of being involved in your sport thus far?
I don’t know If I can recall a fondest memory but I would say I cherish deeply all the amazing people I have met on my basketball journey. I have lived in four provinces in the past six years all in the pursuit of basketball. That being said, never once was I without friends, without support, without love. The basketball community I've experienced is very welcoming and loving. It’s so true that teammates are automatically friends and I feel so lucky to have shared my experiences with the people I did and continue to today.
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 pursue it for myself, honestly. I have shaped the past eight years of my life around sport and it was always my decision. It was me pursuing my dreams and noone else’s. I wake up with the same passion and drive as my eleven year old self did and I think that’s what keeps me going.
What excites you most about continuing your athletic journey at the varsity level within the OUA?
I like the OUA because it is such a high level of competition. The teams are skilled and facing good competition always grows the game.
What is/are some of the more unique aspect(s) of your sport that others may not know about?
Basketball teaches you to be very in touch with your body. When running at the speeds we do and having to be able to stop on a dime to make a shot or a pass is very difficult. So when I’m playing, I have to pay attention to things like how my feet hit the floor; how my balance is; how does the ball feel in my hand; was that a good follow thru; and how do I pass the ball to X if I’m moving at this speed.
If someone else was looking to start playing your sport, what one piece of advice would you give them to get them started?
Learn to love failure. The only way to learn something new is by failing at it first. If everyone was perfect, the game would always be the same and that’s pretty boring. The process of winning is how many times you tried and failed and tried and failed until you try and eventually reach success. I believe that what separates the good from the great is how many times you’re willing to pick yourself back up.
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.)?
WATCH BASKETBALL. Watch basketball on TV, live games, whatever. Just watch others and their craft to advance your own craft.
What would you say to your 10-year-old self about playing and staying in sport?
Embrace it all. Soak in the ambiance of the lifestyle and sport. And eat your veggies!
Is there one strategy that you find works well for you in creating a positive student/athlete balance in your life?
I would say exhausting the resources available to you as a student athlete. The lifestyle is hard. Like really hard. But I’m doing it because of a spark that was lit inside of me when I first picked up a basketball. A light that is still burning bright today. Don’t let the other things get in the way of your passion and try to make your life easier with resources that are just asking to be utilized.
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.
Start a group around a physical activity in your neighbourhood. Explore events. Check out our SWSCD Hub.
Look for advice, stories, news and more on our Basketball activity page.
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.
Blog by Caroline Wiley. Caroline bridged her 20+ years of professional experience in the sport and recreation industry together with her passions for photography and supporting women in sport to create SeeWhatSheCanDo. Her vision is to create a welcoming space where active women find a sense of belonging within their own local community, see themselves in authentic and awe-inspiring ways and find resources to help them be their best active selves.
Photos courtesy of Ontario University Athletics and SeeWhatSheCanDo unless otherwise indicated.
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