Basketball boom in Kingston, Ont.: Local heroes inspire others to shoot for the hoops

Click to play video: 'Women’s basketball boom leads to grass-roots level growth in Kingston'
Women’s basketball boom leads to grass-roots level growth in Kingston
Kingston's basketball scene booms: Gaels OUA championship win, locals drafted, and Aaliyah Edwards WNBA success are all inspiring girls' participation – Apr 19, 2024

Basketball in Kingston is experiencing an electrifying surge, marked by a series of remarkable achievements by local talents that’s fuelling excitement and inspiration throughout the community.

Last month, the Queen’s Gaels secured the OUA championship in thrilling fashion, courtesy of a buzzer-beater three-pointer by Kingston native Cole Syllas.

Adding to the excitement, both Cole and his brother Luka were drafted into the Canadian Elite Basketball League, further solidifying Kingston’s reputation as a basketball hub.

Meanwhile, Aaliyah Edwards, the highly acclaimed UConn Huskies forward, continues to make waves. Recently drafted sixth overall by the Washington Mystics in the WNBA, Edwards has become the highest-ever Canadian selection in the draft’s history.

Edwards has emerged as a leading figure in women’s basketball, serving as the face of Adidas’s new marketing campaign and underscoring her significant impact on the sport’s landscape.

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The ripple effects of these achievements are evident within Kingston’s basketball community. Jason Reynolds, president of the Kingston Impact Basketball Club, has seen a notable increase in girls’ involvement in the sport.

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“We’re seeing more girls enter into the sport at the younger ages, which is fantastic for us,” Reynolds said, highlighting the positive influence of local success stories.

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Kingston Impact, the basketball program where Edwards honed her skills, has witnessed unprecedented growth in girls’ registrations. Over the past two years, enrolment has surged by as much as 50 per cent, which Reynolds attributes to heightened exposure to the women’s game and the inspiration drawn from local success stories.

“I think Aaliyah being part of it makes it even more exciting,” Reynolds said. “We’re really proud of her coming through our program, playing at UConn and getting to the WNBA… It’s almost one in a million for someone from our region to do that.”

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Aaliyah Edwards has also been actively involved in nurturing the next generation of basketball talent. Last summer, she organized a free camp for local players and intends to continue such initiatives during her WNBA offseason, further fostering basketball development in Kingston.


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