Cara is another one of the quiet players on the team and I wish we had found the opportunity to sit down to talk one on one sooner in the season. Cara grew up in Newmarket Ontario and got involved in basketball because one of her best friends who she played soccer with was playing basketball and encouraged her to join the same team. They were only 6 years old and from all the players on the team that I talked to, Cara started at the youngest age. She played house league for two years and started playing on a rep team at age eight. Her parents had no interest or involvement in basketball until Cara got involved in the sport. They are now two of the most dedicated and enthusiastic Ryerson Rams fans. I even personally felt great support from her parents for my involvement with the team. It has been lovely to meet them this year.
Cara played for a number of teams but said her best experience was with the North York Avengers. In her last two years of high school she played in a scouting league called Juel for a team from Scarborough. It was hard for her to leave her coaches and Avenger teammates but she knew that if she wanted to move farther in her basketball career she needed to be in a league that would give her more exposure. She also played one summer for a team called Junior Rams coached by Carly Clarke, Ryerson’s Head Coach and Kait Asquini, one of the Ryerson Assistant Coaches. She was on this summer team at Ryerson with another current Ryerson player, Kat.
Cara also played soccer at a high level and said that many folks thought she would play soccer at university but she says that she prefers the pace of basketball. I asked her if she missed anything about soccer and she said she mainly misses her friends and teammates because she they grew up together.
I asked Cara how and when she knew that she was good at basketball – she talked about shooting drills that she remembers doing when she was younger and she only ever went for the more challenging targets/shots. Also as a young player she was assigned to guard Kia Nurse who was on a rival team. Kia is a very successful player in the NCAA and led the Canadian women’s team to a gold medal in the Pan Am games in Toronto last summer. Although she chose to stay with her friends, she was asked by Kia’s Dad who coached Kia’s team to join that team in Hamilton. Clearly she was playing at a very high level at a young age.
Cara is in her 2nd year at Ryerson studying English and she lives downtown sharing an apartment with teammate Kat. She also considered Wilfrid Laurier and St. Mary’s when applying to university – specifically Kinesiology at WLU. After touring both schools she decided Ryerson was the right choice for her and started in first year in Psychology which she really did not like. She is now an English major. She doesn’t really love English and doesn’t even like reading that much but she really likes to write and is enjoying some of the more practical courses like this year’s on-line publishing course.
She hasn’t decided exactly what comes after her English degree but is thinking that through and is considering a graduate degree or a certificate in public relations. She may end up following the same path as her mom who did a degree in languages and a certificate in public relations at Ryerson. She is also currently taking a minor in business communications so that might be an area that she focuses on in graduate work. She might seek an opportunity to continue her basketball career oversees after Ryerson. Of course she is young and has lots of great options and there is no rush whatsoever for her to decide on anything definite. She does know for sure that she will stay at Ryerson for three more years, until her eligibility runs out.
Cara really had no words to describe this season with the team. This team accomplished so much and were so successful. She said that this year “was amazing…I don’t have words to describe it…it hasn’t sunk in yet that we are OUA champions”. Even last year in her rookie season she was not expecting so much success – with a provincial silver medal and the program’s first appearance at a national championship. When Cara came to Ryerson she expected to play in the #2 or #3 wing position. Coach Carly had her play the point guard position when the regular point guard was not able to play in an exhibition game. This was a surprise to her because she does not see herself as a fancy or accomplished ball handler compared to some other players but she obviously did well. She was a starter in this position in her first year which is an amazing accomplishment despite how nervous she was to play in this position. She played starting point guard this year as well and has developed much more confidence.
I asked her what she wants to accomplish in the next three years on the team. She said she really wants to keep improving and maintain her position as starting point guard. She hopes to score more with the three seniors who earned most of the points each game, leaving the team. She also wants to make sure that with Mariah, Keneca, and Siki graduating that the team continues the success and momentum that has been created in the last two years.
Basketball has taught Cara how to be a team player and work with others – she said this is especially the case for her as she did not grow up with any siblings. As a shy person sports were her way of meeting others, connecting and making friends.
Cara works in the summer at her high school – a private school she moved to after experiencing bullying at her previous school. In that summer job she teaches basketball and other sports at the day camp run by the school. She also has to keep working on her game and hopes to increase her muscle mass this summer. When not working or working out she will relax at her family cottage and she hopes to get her boating license and the last stage of her driver’s license this summer.
There are 4 or 5 players on this team who are very quiet and shy but I am amazed to see them go out on the court and be tough and strong and comfortable with all eyes on them in a gym packed with fans. Cara is quiet on the court as well and said that teammate Kenny told her she is a calming influence on the court. In her 4th and 5th year she will have to take a leadership role and become more vocal. I think she will easily have the respect of her teammates as she progresses in her basketball career at Ryerson because it was clear to me that she has already earned it. She is a bright, accomplished, lovely young woman who I know will make herself, her family and her teammates proud, as she moves forward at Ryerson and beyond.
Again my sincere thanks to Alex D’Addese for giving me permission to use his amazing photographs on this blog. To see more of his work click here.