From the time I started playing basketball my goal was always to play for the Memorial Sea~Hawks. Throughout Elementary, Jr. High and High School I had many opportunities to play in the spring leagues and summer camps that Memorial put off every year while attending their home games on the weekends. It was during this time that I began to realize how much I wanted to play at the University level while wearing a Sea~Hawks jersey.
In my final year of High School I got the opportunity to achieve my goal by signing with Memorial. The commitment to the program started right away even as I was still in my Senior Year. I would get up twice a week in the morning at 5:30am to attend shooting practice and then would come home and get ready for school. On top of this I would have scrimmages almost every night all while getting ready for my final public exams in June. I still remember going out to my first scrimmage feeling really nervous as I didn’t know what to expect with a new team and coach. Coach English however, from the very beginning made me feel really at home and a part of the team and was very supportive which helped a lot. It was during this time that I realized how much work and dedication it would take to perform at the next level.
After my school year ended I spent the summer working at the Memorial Basketball Camps during the days and training in the nights. It was during this period that I really began to know my new teammates and how supportive they were in helping me make the transition into my first year of University. They not only helped me improve my basketball skills but also with preparing me with what to expect in the adjustment that I was about to make. I feel really lucky as without the girls this summer I would not have been as prepared for all the challenges of University life as I was.
When September came it was a tough transition going from the small high school that I attended, St. Kevin’s High School with about 400 students to a University with an enrollment of about 18,000 students. In high school I knew all my teachers and almost every student by name and felt very comfortable where I was. My class sizes were small and all my classes were in one building. Now, most of my classes are very large and are in many different buildings throughout the day. This is just one of the many new challenges faced as a first year student. But, thankfully I have supportive teammates and coaches to help me along my way.
It was also in September that the full team practices really began and I had to learn quickly how to manage my time between academics and athletics. This was probably the hardest transition to make as I was used to only a couple practices a week in High School and now we practice ten hours a week not including expected shooting reps, and weight training. I spend most of my hours either at the gym, in the library or in one of my classes. While it is challenging, I have gotten used to the transition and it’s helped me grow as both a basketball player and a student. These are the type of skills that I know are going to be useful in the future that I wouldn’t necessarily have had without being a member of the Sea~Hawks team.
Being a rookie on the team is definitely a new experience to me as I went from being one of the oldest players on my team to being the youngest in the matter of a few months. As the youngest player on the team I get to learn from the more experienced players as to how they train and prepare in the Pre-Season. I was also not aware of how much preparation and meetings the coaches dedicate into getting us ready for games such as watching film and discussing our overall game plan on a weekly basis.
One of my favorite experiences so far as a rookie was during our first Pre-Season games this year in Corner Brook. It was my first opportunity to go on a road trip with the girls and play in my first AUS games. It was great to bond as a team and to get some game time experience at this new level. I remember getting on the court for the first time and how nervous I was as some of my opponents were both older and more experienced than me and I found out very quickly how fast paced the game was at this level. Again, it was both the coaches and my teammates that helped me make the transition as they were both very supportive in their advice and their actions while I was on the court. It was at this point that I saw first-hand how close our team was and how supportive we all are to each other no matter what the challenge as we really are a team both on and off the court.
As I look forward to my rookie Season starting I’m sure there will be both highlights and challenges as I learn what it takes to be a good player at the University level. But I know that no matter what happens I will have supportive people behind me and I wouldn’t trade this opportunity for the world. I know that my years at Memorial will be memorable because of this program and the everlasting friendships I will have even when my University Basketball career is finished.
By: Ashley Collins (Women's Basketball)