Updated: Feb 17
Grace Smrke believes her size fits well on a St. Clair women's basketball team that needed to get bigger. "Grace is a physical, tenacious defender and rebounder who can hit the 15 - 17 footer and is a more than capable inside finisher". said head coach Andy Kiss.
"She has high "IQ" and can operate out of the high post with the ball in her hands. This fits well with our offensive scheme adjustments for '21,'22" he added. Smrke played in the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association at LoEllen Park Secondary School which Kiss says is the highest calibre league for high school aged players in the province.
Get to know a young talent travelling far away from home to pursue the game she loves.
My name is Grace Smrke and I am 17 years old. I started playing Club basketball when I was 7 years old. Even though I played many other sports through the schools I attended, basketball has always been my favourite. I love the back-and-forth nature of the game... You are either on offense or defense and must always be aware and on your toes. Basketball is not just running and jumping, you also have to engage your basketball IQ. On defense you're always trying to get a better angle to cut off driving and passing lanes and on offense you're constantly trying to create space for yourself or your teammates.
I think my favourite basketball moment was a tournament in Timmins that my team won the championship to. It was the Sister Fay tournament and I was named the tournaments Most Valuable Player. It was certainly a high point for me and a feeling I will never forget.
When I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in firefighting I searched out schools that offered that program. I knew that I wanted to continue my development as a basketball player as well. I basically narrowed down my choices to 3 schools that had the pre-firefighter program I wanted, as well as a competitive basketball program. In talking with the coaching staff at St. Clair and the athletic director, I really liked what they had to say. It seemed to be a great program and it looked to me like they have a culture of winning! I also watched some past game tapes and realized that they could use another strong forward on their team. I believe I have not yet realized the best basketball player that I can be, and I believe that coach Kiss can get this out of me. I am really excited and looking forward to September!