Sarah was born in Calgary. She left her family there to move to Toronto in August to start her first year of university at Ryerson. She spent some time as a kid living in Switzerland because her father is part Swiss and had family and worked there. She is fluent in French and spending time in Switzerland as a child helped her acquire the language more fully.
She started playing basketball when she was 7 years old in a house league (or community team as they refer to it in Calgary). Her mom played basketball in high school and her grandfather played at the University of Calgary which may have been the inspiration for her to play but she said that her parents put her and her sisters in lots of things including piano, soccer, gymnastics, dance, choir and basketball. She also played volleyball at very high level. She played both sports all the way through high school and could have played either sport on a university variety team. Her under 17 volleyball team won the provincial championship every year she played and won the U17 national championship as well one year.
When determining where she would go to university she had to make a decision between the two sports – she considered applying to Queen’s for volleyball, but ultimately she chose basketball. She said that one spring during a 3 or 4 week break between high school basketball and summer rep ball starting, she realized that she would miss basketball more than she would miss volleyball, if she stopped playing. She also said that she had more confidence playing basketball and talked about the unique challenges of volleyball. In volleyball a mistake means a automatic point for the other team, whereas in basketball if you make an error there isn’t time to get down on yourself as the play just quickly moves on…there is no pause to dwell on your mistakes. She also likes the physical requirements of basketball – the running and the impact it has on her fitness level.
Sarah considered a number of universities. She had an offer from Mount Royal University, visited the University of Victoria on a recruitment trip, and talked to Concordia and York. She said that reached out to a number of coaches via email and while many didn’t reply she appreciated that Coach Carly was really on top of responding and maintaining communication. She sent her video and the coach invited her to visit in February 2015. She said that she knew instantly when she got here – everything about Ryerson felt right to her – she thought everyone was so welcoming and nice and spent lots of time showing her around and answering her questions. She went back to Calgary and knew that she wanted to come to Toronto and attend Ryerson. Sarah has just completed her first year in Economics and eventually hopes to get an MBA and work in the marketing field.
Last June a group of Student Affairs staff drove to the west coast in a RV to attend the annual conference of the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS) in Vancouver. Their trip, billed “Road to CACUSS” included a number of stops along the way to visit colleagues at other universities. It also included a stop in Calgary to deliver the offer of admission in person to one high school student who had applied to Ryerson. That student was Sarah and she was surprised at her high school by these Ryerson staff, one of whom wore the costume of the Ryerson Rams mascot Eggy. She was completely surprised and described it to me as “the coolest thing ever”.
A few weeks after this while playing in a summer rep league, Sarah went up for a lay-up and another player ran into her from the side dislocating her knee cap while she was in the air. When she landed on her foot everything tore – her ACL, MCL, and meniscus – and she fractured her femer. She was an hour away from home and had driven to the game herself. Her parents were both out of town and one of her teammates had to drive her and her car back to Calgary to the hospital. She had to have surgery to reconstruct her knee. Her first thought was about school and what this injury would mean for her plans to come to Toronto and play for Ryerson. She was relieved when Coach Carly told her that the Ryerson was still committed to her and wanted her as part of the team. So this is why I have no pictures of Sarah in this blog actually playing basketball. She has spent the entire season doing rehab and physical therapy to recover from her injury. In fact the day we talked she told me that the physical therapist in Athletics had just declared that she was fully recovered and had no restrictions. She can do everything again. She credits Laura, the student therapist assigned to the team, for making the difference in pushing her and helping her recover.
Sarah was the only rookie recruit on the Ryerson Rams women’s basketball team this year. Maybe because she was the only one she said she felt like she belonged fully to the group right away. I had the chance to spend lots of time with Sarah throughout the year because she was on the sidelines as well. She was a great supporter from the bench and you can see from the pictures below the joy and energy she brought to cheering on the team. You can see her volleyball skills in action too – in every picture she is always in the air jumping with excitement.
Sarah is just lovely and she is another one of the teammates who has always made me feel like I belonged in the group. She has really enjoyed her year in Toronto and developing her independence. She is heading back to Calgary for the summer and I look forward to seeing her in the Fall and seeing her for the first time on the court in a Rams uniform. I know she is looking forward to playing and contributing to the team on the court, not just from the sidelines. She has plans to work with a former coach in Calgary to maintain her fitness and continue to develop her basketball skills. Lots of hard work ahead.