For Celina, this is a nat­u­ral fit

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - CE­CELIA CARTER SMITH

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.

GERRY GRA­HAM PHOTO

St. Thomas More’s Celina El­liott has signed a schol­ar­ship with the Lau­rier Golden Hawks.

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