Two friends whose cru­sades con­tinue

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - Ce­celia Carter Smith is a former four-time Cana­dian cham­pion, in­door world and Cana­dian record holder in track and mem­ber of The Hamilton Gallery of Dis­tinc­tion and The McMaster Sports Hall of Fame.

They’ve been best friends since they were “kinder-kids.”

They grew up play­ing on pitches and gyms at Burling­ton’s St. John (Knights) El­e­men­tary School.

Then the mighty Knights grad­u­ated to As­sump­tion CSS where the two lit­tle gifted girls evolved into cel­e­brated “Cru­sader kids.”

Adri­enne Houle was cap­ti­vated by the game with the field hockey “J stick” while Au­tumn Bai­ley was courted by vol­ley­ball.

Their tal­ent in their re­spec­tive sports drew the at­ten­tion of univer­sity and col­lege coaches across the con­ti­nent.

Michelle Tur­ley, head coach of the Guelph Gryphons, made a huge pitch to at­tract Houle. Her older sis­ter, Erin, was an OUA First Team All-Star and all-Cana­dian. How­ever, Prov­i­dence Col­lege pre­vailed.

A soon to-be 2017 spring grad­u­ate of the pri­vate co-ed Rhode Is­land Ro­man Catholic Col­lege (stu- dent pop­u­la­tion 4,500) — Houle was rec­og­nized in the class­room and on the pitch — with a plethora of awards for ex­cel­lence dur­ing her four-year Friar ca­reer.

The mid­fielder ’s ac­co­lades in­cluded: mul­ti­ple BIG East Weekly Honour Roll recog­ni­tion; All BIG East First Team and Na­tional Field Hockey Coaches As­so­ci­a­tion D. 1 (NFHCA) hon­ours; All-North East Re­gion- Sec­ond Team All­Star (2015 & 2016); Vic­tory Sports Tours/NFHCA D. 1 — All-Star Team se­lec­tion (2016) and BIG East All-Aca­demic.

“Adri­enne cer­tainly lived up to our ex­pec­ta­tions,” said Diane Madl coach of the Prov­i­dence Fri­ars. “(As cap­tain and leader) she blos­somed in get­ting the team to work in con­cert. Adri­enne lit­er­ally willed us to win with her never say die at­ti­tude in a num­ber of games this sea­son.”

“Com­ing off a tough 2015 sea­son (win­ning only four games), we went 13-6 (in 2016) and made it to the semi­fi­nals of the BIG East tour­na­ment,” said Houle.

“It was pretty awe­some to end my ca­reer on such a high note and to share it with my team­mates who worked so hard.”

The Burling­ton na­tive has qual­i­fied for a UK An­ces­try Visa and hopes to pur­sue pro­fes­sional play in England, home of the reign­ing 2016 Olympic gold medal­lists.

And Mar­quette won the sweep­stakes for As­sump­tion’s Au­tumn Bai­ley.

The U-16 (2011) and U-20 (2013) na­tional club (De­fensa) vol­ley­ball cham­pion and MVP made a huge im­pact the mo­ment she hit the hard­wood at Mar­quette (2013) earn­ing BIG East Fresh­man of the Year Hon­ours; Amer­i­can Vol­ley­ball Coaches As­so­ci­a­tion (AVCA) All East Coast Re­gion Hon­ours; AVCA All-Amer­ica — Honourable Men­tion and BIG East All-Aca­demic Team.

The out­stand­ing out­side hit­ter re­peated the ath­letic ac­co­lades in her sopho­more sea­son, adding 2014 BIG East All-Star and BIG East Player of the Year Hon­ours to her al­ready re­mark­able re­sume.

Then, sud­denly, Bai­ley’s Mar­quette ca­reer got spiked!

The head coach who had so heav­ily re­cruited the tal­ented player left Mar­quette for an­other coach­ing job.

Bai­ley de­cided to trans­fer to Michi­gan State Univer­sity where the All-Star was a guar­an­tee to be a starter.

How­ever, in the fourth set of the first match of the 2015 sea­son Bai- ley was felled with a torn right ACL, the first de­bil­i­tat­ing in­jury in her cel­e­brated ca­reer.

She re­habbed. Hard. And, then for­tu­nately, was granted an ad­di­tional year of NCAA play­ing el­i­gi­bil­ity.

In 2016, Bai­ley was named AVCA All North Re­gion; AVCA Al­lAmer­ica Honourable Men­tion; All Big Ten Honourable Men­tion; Spar­tan Clas­sic MVP and Big Ten Player of the Week.

Not sur­pris­ingly, the 2017 Spar­tan se­nior sen­sa­tion has set lofty goals for her­self and her MSU mates.

“We are ex­pect­ing big things from this team (in 2017),” said the ed­u­ca­tion ma­jor. “We set the foun­da­tion last sea­son and I think this will be a great year for us. We have a Big Ten and Na­tional Cham­pi­onship in sight.”

And they just might achieve that goal.

Don’t bet against the former As­sump­tion Cru­sader.

She’s on a mis­sion.

, MITCHELL LEFF

Prov­i­dence Col­lege’s Adri­enne Houle, front, hopes to play pro­fes­sion­ally in the United King­dom.

, MATTHEW MITCHELL

Au­tumn Bai­ley will play a big role in Michi­gan State Univer­sity’s drive to a Big Ten and na­tional cham­pi­onships.

CE­CELIA CARTER SMITH

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