‘Aaliyah can absolutely be an Olympian one day’: U17 Women’s World Cup just a stepping stone for Edwards
She’s been a standout player with the Kingston Impact, Frontenac Secondary School where she clinched the school’s first-ever girls basketball OFSAA title, played for Team Ontario and represented Canada at last summer’s U-16 FIBA Americas tournament.
This summer, Kingston’s Aaliyah Edwards is off to Belarus with her Team Canada teammates to take part in FIBA’s U-17 Women’s World Cup of Basketball.
At only 16 years of age, Edwards already has an impressive resume. But she’d never tell you she’s done it on her own.
“I’m just really grateful and appreciative of everyone who’s helped me get to this stage of basketball,” Edwards said.
With that much talent at such a young age, you’d think Aaliyah would have been shooting hoops as soon as she learned how to walk.
Not the case. Aaliyah’s first love when it came to sports was track and field, which she’s still very active in. She’s only been playing competitive basketball for the last four seasons.
It wasn’t until being recruited to a Team Ontario summer camp that she realized basketball was her true passion.
“After she came back, she told me, ‘Mom, Mom! I really want this, I want to train hard,” Aaliyah’s mother and former coach, Jackie Edwards said.
“I’m biased, obviously. But she’s just a really good teammate, and a really good individual,” the elder Edwards added.
Last summer’s trip to Argentina for the FIBA Americas ended with a loss to the United States in the finals. Silver is not what she and her teammates hoped for and are hoping to change that this year, but know they’ll have their work cut out for them.
“It’s a whole different ball game than just the FIBA Americas,” Aaliyah said. “We’re going to be exposed to new athletes too, and just the preparation for getting to a higher level of basketball.”
But preparation shouldn’t be a problem for Edwards. Jodi Gram, her coach at the national level for the past two seasons praises the young woman’s work ethic, adding she has as much talent and dedication to the craft as others she’s coached who have gone on to have great careers.
“Aaliyah can absolutely be an Olympian one day,” Gram said. “Aaliyah can absolutely play at the highest level of collegiate and university basketball.”
Aaliyah interrupted her coach during the conference call to thank her for the comment.
The Canadian U-17 women’s squad is currently taking part in a pre-tournament camp in Toronto. They head to Latvia later this week for three exhibition games before the tournament kicks off on July 22 in Minsk, Belarus.
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