Two Yellowknifers have scored a slam dunk by being selected to play Ontario University Athletics basketball.
Mali Straker and Janet Rose are heading into their first year of university next September. Straker will join the Laurentian Voyagers while Rose is set to represent Waterloo’s Laurier Golden Hawks.
Born and raised in Yellowknife, Straker says she has been playing basketball since she was seven years old.
When she was younger, she would leave the territory in the summer to attend basketball camps in Calgary. She now lives and attends school in Calgary to play on competitive teams.
“My mom coached me for all of middle school and eventually I started going to camps outside the territory,” Straker said.
“That’s where I started getting recognition and also just understanding how much I love the sport and want to go far in it.
“Once I got into Grade 10, I knew I needed to move away from Yellowknife to pursue my dreams of playing post-secondary basketball.”
Straker plans to study psychology at Laurentian University. It’ll be a new part of the country for her.
“I’m definitely just looking forward to pushing myself, whether it’s to better my team or my individual skill levels. I’m looking to just improve as much as I can,” she said.
Rose says she got her start for the game in Grade 6. Straker’s mom encouraged her to try out for a competitive league.
She’s been in love with the sport ever since.
Rose moved to Victoria in the ninth grade. The sport has taken her all the way to destinations like Las Vegas for tournaments.
Rose, who will take political science at Laurier University, has an ambitious goal for her first year in university basketball: “I want to be a rookie that gets the most playing time in rookie history,” she said.
“I have big dreams of wanting to eventually make an all-star team.”
Rose says basketball has already given her memories and life lessons, even if 2020 proved an odd year for her sport..
“I think what this year has really boiled down to is not looking at the present but trying to find motivation for the future,” she said, “because the present right now is so unpredictable.”