“It’s time to hang up the tutu and lace up the basketball shoes!”
Those words from my dad kick-started it all. It was like a snap of a finger, and I stopped being a ballerina and turned into a basketball player. My dad, mom, and older brother all played the game. So you could say the sport sort of runs in my blood.
But growing up and competing for all of these years, I’ve learned the best thing about playing a sport isn’t the actual sport itself. It’s the people you meet along the way.
I’ve met some of my best friends since I made the decision to leave home back in Canada and hop on a plane ride to California to chase this college basketball dream of mine. They’re the sort of friendships that don’t come along often — you know, the ones that last a lifetime.
I’ve traveled the world and been blessed with the opportunity to see places some people only dream about.
To any of the young people out there thinking of pursuing something in their life — no matter what it is — take it from me and go for it. Right now!
I’d encourage anyone to participate in sports and work hard at it because you never really know what it can bring you.
Benefits of failure
Honestly, for me, the turning point was my summer tryout for the Ontario basketball team in my junior year of high school. Making that team was one of the biggest goals in my life at the time, and I wanted it so, so much.
But I ended up getting cut from the team.
Yes, it was a huge letdown and obviously disappointing. But instead of moping around and allowing that experience to bring me down, I used it to drive and push myself to a whole other level.
I came back the next summer and ended up making the Canadian national team.
So, there I was, getting cut from the Ontario team and then playing on the national team the following summer. It’s pretty wild when you really think about that.
All I needed was one person to believe in me and give me a chance, and that’s exactly what happened with me making the national team.
I’m telling you right now, you don’t take a moment like that for granted.
I mean, I was representing my country and competing on an international stage — I could have pinched myself and never believed it.
We placed second in the American Cup during my time with the team and even competed for the World Cup in Thailand. Still to this day, I honestly believe it was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had with basketball.
Taking the step
That experience gave me the confidence to move countries and continue to pursue my basketball dreams at Long Beach State. Just being away from my family and moving in with a host family that I’d never met until I got here — that was a pretty big jump for a 17-year-old.
But I couldn’t allow myself to fall into that mindset, you know?
I knew I was passionate about what I was doing and the sacrifices it takes to make it. And that was one of them.
I have such a great relationship with my parents, and I am constantly on the phone with my family, even to this day.
I did get lucky in the fact that my mom actually works for an airline, which meant I was able to fly home once a month when I first got here. That was a huge help to the transition for me, and honestly, without it, I’m not sure how I would have made it.
I’m just fortunate my parents believed in me enough to provide resources for me to do that.
But occasionally, especially in that first year of college, those feelings of homesickness would creep up.
I’m forever grateful for my teammates and coaches, who have all helped make this transition as smooth as possible. Coach Jeff [Cammon] even allowed me to go see my family when things got a bit difficult.
Everybody went out of their way to make me feel welcome and at home here in the States. But, you know, it’s still tough to be away from your real blood family, too.
Those feelings aren’t something you can just turn off.
But it was through the faith and understanding of those around me that I was ultimately able to make it through.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s about the people you meet along the way, and I was fortunate enough to meet so many great ones.
Coach Jeff and the staff believed in me the moment I got here. When I was being recruited, they literally told me they were rebuilding the program, and it was going to be my team.
They wanted me to come on that journey with them and help them rebuild.
There were also never too many red lights on me as far as my game was concerned. They let me be me on the floor, and I was able to grow as a player right away.
What more can you ask for?
That’s why I had so many of those early accomplishments. But it wasn’t just about my coaches. My teammates believed in me as well.
As a freshman, I was one of the leaders on the team, and it’s a big thing that they trusted me to step into that role at such a young age. They could have easily been like, “No, you’re too young. We’re not listening to you!”
But they never let my age factor into the equation. They just knew what we needed to get done. I feel like they’re a huge reason for everything I’ve accomplished and why I’m the player I am today.
Embracing the process
Looking back on all of my accomplishments, I can say with complete confidence now that I made the right decision in putting up the tutu and lacing up the basketball shoes.
I’m really hoping to continue playing this game for as long as I can.
I plan on playing for another college season and hopefully turning professional after that. At the very least, I’d love to play for a couple of years as a pro.
I just want to continue to grow my basketball experience and knowledge with a different style of play. Just keep playing until my body tells me, “Okay, enough is enough! We can’t take it anymore.”
And then I’d love to come back and coach.
My hope is to pass down the things I’ve learned to the next generation and encourage every athlete to enjoy the ride while it’s still here. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
Even now, I just think back to that seven-year-old version of myself that didn’t know any of this would have ever been possible the moment I picked up a basketball.
I guess you never know where your ceiling will be in life.
But if I can find mine, then you can definitely find yours—whatever it is in your life.
Just work hard, enjoy the process, and go get it!