Thursday, February 21, 2013


Seniors night last weekend was awesome. Having only been here for two years I felt like a bit of an intruder, but the girls who have been here longer were kind enough to share the special day with me. After the game the four of us and our parents went out for a celebratory dinner and then went back to the Currie Centre to see the volleyball boys win AUS. Congratulations boys!!

When Speedy was talking about me at seniors night one of the things he said was that a lot of my past is a mystery. I'm not sure if that's true, because I'm pretty sure I talk too much, but I thought I'd take this week to explain a bit about how I'm 25 and still playing university ball, and how I ended up at UNB. I find self-reflection tedious and a little uncomfortable but I have a nine hour bus ride so what the heck.

I played high school ball at Handsworth Secondary, a powerhouse basketball school that routinely produces NCAA and CIS athletes. At the end of my grade 11 season we had a team meeting and my coach announced that he didn't want to take more than 6 seniors the next year (so that the year after he wouldn't have a weakened team having just graduated too many girls). I counted around the room and knew I wasn't in the top six. I figured I wouldn't make the cut. I made the decision then not to practice or tryout in my grade 12 year.

I did other things that year. I helped coach the grade 8 and grade 9 teams. I was in my school play. I expanded my horizons and did things that I enjoyed. The girls came fourth in the province that year. The boys won. Led by Scott Leigh, Quinn Keast, and Rob Sacre, the boys cruised to their first championship in school history. Three months later, on the night of our graduation, Quinn was killed in a traffic accident. All of our lives changed that night. I didn't know him well but our families were, and still are, close.

It was a wakeup call I wasn't ready for and I chose to go to a school only a few hours away from home. I still wasn't playing basketball, but I saw the team around campus. They had what I had always wanted but was too scared to try to achieve. The summer after my first year of university I was working at a basketball camp in Alberta when a conversation with a fellow coach changed my perspective on everything. To make a long story short she told me that I could do anything I set my mind to. She encouraged me and inspired me to follow my dream. I went back to school in September determined to play basketball again. I knew I wasn't ready for that year, but I trained for six months and then started emailing coaches.

I found out that a brand new university had opened in Squamish, a town equidistant between Vancouver and Whistler. The school was private, and academically rigorous, but small enough that they were competing in the PacWest, the BC conference of the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association. A school with a great reputation but a level of basketball I could handle? It was a dream come true. I emailed the coach, set up a tryout, applied, was accepted, received my scholarship offer, transferred some credits and before I knew it I was enrolled and beginning classes at Quest University.

When it came time to choose a jersey number the choice was simple. Thirteen. The same jersey number that Quinn Keast wore. The same number worn in solidarity by a dozen athletes from my high school class who were playing various sports across North America. It was a number I associated with relentless blue collar work ethic, both Quinn's and my own. It was a number that reminded me of where I came from, and the people I share my past with. A number that symbolized integrity, unselfishness, kindness, and unwavering passion.

I played at Quest for three years before I graduated with the inaugural class and a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences. My three years there were incredible. I was in love with school and basketball. I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do when I graduated, except that I wanted to be a student athlete for as long as my eligibility would allow it. I explored a bunch of options, but my decision was made when I was accepted to the MPhil - Policy Studies program at UNB.

As the oldest rookie in my first year at UNB I got first dibs of whatever numbers were left. As fate would have it, someone switched that year and 13 was free. I couldn't imagine wearing anything else. Years later, and on the other side of the country, the number is still a reflection of everything I value about the game, and aspire to be.

The number has become part of my identity; as much my name as the one on my drivers licence. I turn my head if a ref says it, and I notice it on street signs, house numbers, and digital clocks. I feel possessive of it but connected to anyone else who wears it. This is my last year wearing it. Next year when someone else puts that jersey on it won't be mine anymore. Maybe it will mean something to them, or maybe they'll get stuck with it when it's the last one left and no one wants it. I hope somehow that whoever gets it knows what it meant to me, and how hard it is to let go. Because for me it has always been more than a number. It's part of who I am.


For more info on Quinn and his legacy check out

This weekend we play Friday at 6:00 and Saturday at 2:00 at CBU. For those of you not making the trek to Sydney you can find links to the webcast as

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Seniors Night

I'm sorry I haven’t posted much lately. Honestly, I just haven’t been sure what to say. My feelings are so jumbled these days. It is a struggle to know how I am feeling, much less write it down for someone else. We’re into the final push of the regular season and every one of my feelings has two sides to it. One second I’m grumpy and frustrated and the next I’m dancing around the team room singing out how excited I am that my mom is coming to visit this weekend. There is so much happening right now and it’s hard to sort out.

I turn 25 on Friday. That’s a little freaky. Some days I feel like a total misfit on a team where the average player is six years younger than me. On other days, I’m pretty sure I’m the most immature person in the gym (and every roadtrip when I’m toting my favourite Batman pillow). Still, it’s my birthday, and birthdays mean phone calls from friends and guilt-free cake eating so I guess I’ll take it.

I had a moment last Friday in UPEI when, during a timeout of the men’s game, the announcers took a moment to congratulate Mel and me for finishing our fifth year. It just sort of hit me. I’ll never play there again (and thanks for the shoutout – you stay classy UPEI).

Sunday is our Seniors Night (the game is at 1:00 – does that make it Seniors Day?). For those of you who don’t know, Seniors Night takes place on the last home game of the season. Coaches and teams pause before the game to recognize players who are finishing their careers. We also get to thank our families for helping us get to where we are. This year Mel, Laura, Sam, and I are graduating from the program.

Seniors Night, like everything else in the last few weeks, feels like whole bunch of emotions flying around and making no sense. Perhaps I’m not a talented enough writer or maybe for some things there are no words; I’m not sure. There is a lot to be excited about. Coach Speedy is going to stand at centrecourt and say nice things about Laura, Sam, Mel, and me. We’ll get to hand flowers to our mothers. There will be a lot of crying.

Over the last five years when things have been tough I’ve looked ahead to my Seniors Night as the light at the end of the tunnel. Surrounded by friends and family and standing shoulder to shoulder with some of the strongest and most amazing women I know, I would look around and take a moment to just be proud of myself. Not worried about playing time or missed shots and forgetting every mistake I’ve made in my career. Just a few minutes to be proud, but now that it is so close I’m not sure how to feel about it.

The adult in me is tired. My body aches all the time. I used to relish the contact in the post and now I wince when I see a box out or Sam’s elbow coming. The adult in me drags myself to practice, groans when I get out of bed, and is so relieved when each workout is finished. But the kid in me? The kid in me hates me for it. The kid in me is still running around bouncing off the walls excited that I get to play the game I love every day. The kid in me still hasn’t really accepted that there might be kids who look up to me the way I used to idolize the players at UBC and SFU. The kid in me tells me every day to stop my whining and remember I’m living my dream.

I think the CIS people knew what they were doing when they made the five-year eligibility rule. I don’t know if I would be strong enough to decide for myself when it’s time for me to call it quits. I know that after this year, it’s time for me to be done but somehow, despite all of my exhaustion and frustration, I have a totally irrational desire to keep playing. I guess I am lucky, then, that we still have 4 games left in the regular season, and then playoffs. I recognize my nostalgia, but now is the time to give everything that my body, mind, and soul has left. We need to compete, play, and come together to succeed in the few games that we have left. I suppose if it were easy everyone would do it. The end of my career is near, but it is not over yet. And, while I’ll have to deal with these emotions in a month, now is the time to give everything I have.


Come check us out this weekend as we play MUN, Saturday at 6:00 and Sunday at 1:00.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Shoot For The Cure

Playing basketball has given me an incredible series of opportunities. It has taken me to all but one province, and several trips through the US. It has helped pay for school, given me summer employment, and given me skills that would take me infinite time to write.

Today, however, basketball gives me something way more valuable.  Basketball allows me to take the game I love use and it to help unite my community.

Tonight we host Shoot For The Cure as part of Think Pink Weekend in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. We will be selling 50/50 tickets and raffling a bunch of awesome prizes. Claire, Colleen, and Kylee Speedy will be cutting their hair and donating it to Locks For Love. We will be sporting our new pink uniforms and playing with a pink basketball.  

Battles are fought on different scales around the world every day. Today, while I’m listening to Cory explain an offensive adjustment other people are listening to their doctor give them terrible news. While I’m sitting in video and reading my scouting report they are designing a battle plan that is much harder.

What we do in the Currie Centre is so small compared to what people face in their lives, but it’s all I know how to do.

We are united by all kinds of things. Some are silly, but some are profound. The battle our community faces isn’t going to be stopped by one player’s stand-out performance. Instead, we all have to come together, circle the wagons, and have each other’s backs, because that’s the only way we are going to win this one.

One my favourite things about this game is the way that when you’re playing nothing else matters.  Somehow, a leather ball knows how to turn off the world but I’m taking the pain and loss that cancer has caused the ones I love with me tonight and, I hope, turning into something else; into pride for my team, my school, and the Fredericton community, and into the belief that no battle is insurmountable. 


Tip tonight is at 6:00. Men are at 8:00. Even though we always want you there, tonight it is especially true. Please come out and support us as we take on Dalhousie.

If you can't make it think about checking out women's volleyball's Dig For The Cure and men's hockey's Pink The Rink this weekend.