It’s easier to write this to you now, looking back at your life with a much more mature perspective. You were so hard on yourself… sometimes too hard – but I think that is what made you better - and better is exactly what you always strived to be.
I remember you in your early years of high school. You were often so nervous to fit in. You worried about what to wear, you were scared of boys, you clung to whatever was cool, although that really wasn’t you. I’m thankful you had basketball to teach you that being “cool” really wasn’t cool. Basketball taught you so many of your values and gave you an incredible base for how you have lived your life.
When you were even younger, the elementary days, Dad coached boys basketball. You loved being in the gym with him and his teams but at that time that joy meant being a ball girl, a water girl, running around the gyms and the locker rooms playing hide and go seek and occasionally taking stats during games. You didn’t know it then, but you would fall in love with basketball and it would shape your life.
In grade 8, basketball was starting to be life for you but you didn’t quite understand what that meant. You loved the game, but you didn’t know the work it took to be good or how to separate yourself. It was the spring after your grade 8 year, your first high school basketball season when you went to try out for the Fraser Valley Summer Games team. This was a small pool in relation to the entire province. You worked hard and thought you were good enough to make the team. After the tryouts ended each athlete got called into the PE office of the host school to be told if they had made the team. It was your turn. You had to walk across the entire gym floor into the office, and they cut you. I still remember you had to walk back across the gym all the way to your mom trying to fight the tears that were streaming down your face. You cried and cried, the whole way home. You cried for two days. Your mom was there for you, she always was. That may seem normal to you, because it’s all you know but you are so lucky to have supportive parents. This was so early in your basketball career, but it was so pivotal because you felt a pain you didn’t want the game to let you feel ever again.
You had a year to get better and that’s what you did. You went to the gym with your brother before school every day, you were playing basketball all the time. Competing against guys, shooting in the driveway, 7 AM’s before school, you put in work and the following summer you tried out for the U15 provincial team and guess what- you made it. You were cut a year before from the regional team and you worked your way up to being one of the top 12 girls in the entire province. Now you were starting to understand what hard work really was.
Hey little Elle- one thing I would like to tell you is that I’m proud of you. Proud because you were never the tallest, the fastest or the most athletic but you had HEART. Your work ethic afforded you opportunity - you were just an average athlete with a red face who was the hardest worker in every gym, you became tough and for that I am proud of you.
I want you to really understand one thing, nothing ever really changed throughout the next 10 years of your basketball career. You were always the underdog, and you always thrived as the underdog. You were going to be successful because you had what it takes. You put the work in, and you continued to get better, and better. One thing you learned that if you could not be the fastest athlete or lacked the ability to jump out of the gym, you would work in areas where you could be the best. You were a great leader, you became a great shooter and most importantly you really understood the game- Basketball IQ was an area you worked on… you spent hours and hours watching Steve Nash play- after all you wanted to be just like him!
Steve Nash was your high school hero- great choice kid. He was in some ways just like you, an undersized point guard from BC. He was exactly what and who you wanted to be, the male version of course. Steve is an unassuming small town kid, who went on to play at Santa Clara University and then became the MVP in the NBA! I mean come on, what an absolute inspiration. Oh hey, Elle do you remember Summer of grade 11, when you started to receive letters from US Division 1 schools? You had not received one recruitment letter until this point but just like your whole basketball career went, you kept your foot on the gas and results came. Your first letter was from Steve Nash’s school – Santa Clara!
After many of the conversations you had with college coaches you followed your gut and signed to play at Division 1, Seattle University. This was one of the best decisions you could have made, you could have played at a bigger school in a bigger conference but your choice to play at Seattle U was a great decision. You stayed close to home, you value family and your family was at every home game- this was huge. You started all 4 years. You were a little freshman who got the S*** kicked out her every practice by teammates and coaches, leaving every practice feeling defeated and often in tears, but all the work you had put in spoke for itself. You deserved to be there in that starting 5 because you had worked for it.
Elle you had so many great lessons in college - this is really where you grew up, many trials and tribulations made you who you were. You went down there at 17 years old, living alone, learning how to balance basketball, your studies, and your social life. It was not easy but man was it worth it. You went through a lot of really tough times. Others may have quit, but not you – quitting was not for you.
Throughout your journey, you were always clear on your goals. You wrote these out early and with your persistence and your hard work you were able to tick off every one of your basketball goals. Here is your list:
So here you were, graduated from Seattle U and a little bit uncertain about what was next. You spent the last 4 years of your life at Seattle U and now it was time to “grow up” and move on. Yikes! You decided to tick that last goal off the list- off to Belgium to play professional basketball you went. Your agent secured you a position in the top league in Belgium. You packed up your bags, terrified, not sure what to expect, leaving family, friends and your dog behind. You had unfinished business. Belgium was a whole new experience - A new country, city, coach, teammates, language. All of which was a challenge, but all were components in shaping you into the woman you are today
Elle, thanks to your basketball journey, the struggles, the highs and the lows, you learned so much and you gained so much. It shaped you. You had incredible coaches and mentors, amazing teammates and friends You felt so much pain and so much joy, you travelled the world and learned so many life lessons. It would be a shame if you didn’t share your journey, your knowledge and your passion with future generations with similar dreams.
You are a strong woman now. You want to inspire little girls like you were to have big dreams, to never settle, to be confident, to know no goal is too big if you work hard. Your drive and confidence allowed you to open EK Hoops training and start Hercourt. Basketball hurt you sometimes, but it never let you down. You coach now and own a girl’s basketball clothing line. You get to inspire hundreds of young girls who just like you, have dreams and goals, but above all – LOVE BASKETBALL.
I am proud of you, and I love you