For Celina, this is a natural fit
Laurier has landed a local talented fledging to its Hawks nest.
“With Celina (Elliott) we have again successfully dipped into the Hamilton hotbed of basketball talent which has been an excellent recruiting ground for us over the years,” said Paul Falco, head Hawk of the women’s basketball program.
Falco believes that his latest Hamilton hoop recruit will “become an offensive threat in the OUA. As Celina’s game grows, I see her being able to score both inside and out.”
The Hawk bench boss has had tremendous success with local recruits.
Laurier alum Renata Adamczyk (2011), a Dundas Parkside grad, was named a threetime OUA All-Star, two-time OUA West Defensive Player of the Year, and the OUA West recipient of the Joy Bellinger Award of Merit that recognizes outstanding service to university athletics, community and basketball.
And Westdale’s Amber Hillis (2008-13) was named to the OUA All-Rookie Team and received the OUA and CIS Tracy MacLeod Award (2013) which represents “perseverance, determination and unwavering spirit.”
Throughout her collegiate career, Hillis was hampered by multiple injuries: ankle sprains, separated shoulder, concussion, whiplash, and a serious back issue. Rehab and a huge heart enabled Hillis to return to the hardcourt.
The former Westdale Warrior was the first and, to date, only Laurier recipient of the provincial and national honour.
And Westdale’s Nicole Morrison, entering her senior season as a Hawk, has twice been named an OUA All-Star.
Elliott did her homework before committing to Laurier.
“When I got the (scholarship) offer from Laurier I did some research on the school,” said the impending St. Thomas More grad.
“Laurier was a perfect size, and academically it is one of the best. (Elliott has enrolled in the Environmental Studies program).
“It was like a light bulb went off in my head. I knew this was the school for me.”
And Elliott added, “Purple is my favourite colour, so I just had to pick Laurier!”
Elliott’s love for the game began when she was a pre-teen at St. Peter and Paul Elementary School.
Five years ago, Elliott won gold at the Eastern Canadian Major Bantam Championship in Fredericton, N.B., as member of the Blessed Sacrament Yellow Jackets.
Glenn Hillis, the championship Jackets head coach, remembers a youngster with a tremendous work ethic.
“Celina worked particularly hard during her Grade 7 and 8 years. By Grade 9, she was a 5-foot-11 post that could run the floor, handle the ball well and had a great outside shot.”
Arguably one of Elliott’s greatest attributes.
“She is a player who understands team concept.”
Over the years Elliott has taken her game to “a very high level” both in rep and in high school (STM),” said Hillis.
And that “high level” attracted interest from university coaches.
“When I watched Celina play this past fall for STM, I knew she would be a welcome addition to Laurier’s program,” said Falco.
“Her ability to defend the paint and be a factor at both ends on the boards are definite strengths. Her unselfishness will allow her to fit right in with our Golden Hawks family.”
Jim Gaunt, formerly an assistant coach and now the head coach of Blessed Sacrament JUEL, calls the 2015 JUEL Prep All-Star “a role model.”
“I have had the pleasure of watching Celina grow not only on the court but as a person that any parent would be proud.”
Cecelia will attempt her hand at golf — again — this summer. “Like a magnet I am drawn to local links,” but promises to return with her column in September.
St. Thomas More’s Celina Elliott has signed a scholarship with the Laurier Golden Hawks.