About Ruth Hamblin

Hey, it’s me Ruth. I’m just a simple farm kid from Houston British Columbia, Canada. God’s been taking me on this crazy adventure around the world using basketball as a way of opening doors to love people. This is my story!

The Injury I Didn’t Know I Needed

2017-09-04T03:55:53+00:00

The start of my second overseas professional basketball season didn’t quite go as I had envisioned it. I got here on the morning of August 25th and everything was going smoothly. I had a whole weekend to adjust before training on Monday. I got settled into my new apartment, life was good – and exciting.

Monday morning rolled around and I went to my first training session. We began with some physical testing just to get a baseline for our fitness and then hopped straight into training.

Within the first ten minutes of drills I went to jump stop and pivot and slipped on the floor (the floor was very slippery). I wound up in an unintentional version of the splits. I was able to walk it off and hopped straight into the next drill, but my knee ached throughout practice. Right after training I iced it before bed because I knew something wasn’t quite right.

I didn’t sleep very well that night as every time I went to move my knee was met with a sharp pain. When I woke up in the morning my knee was really stiff and I just knew I wouldn’t be able to practice that day. I explained it to our assistant coach and went and saw our team’s physio after practice.

He diagnosed it as a Grade 1 MCL sprain. I was relieved it wasn’t worse (knees are a scary subject for basketball players), but it meant I would be out for a few days while it settled down. It was kind of frustrating.

So I did my due diligence and Thursday morning was cleared for some straight line running and shooting. I was excited to be able to join my teammate for an early morning shooting session.

Within the first ten minutes of the workout I went up to shoot a reverse layup and came down wrong.

My ankle rolled over the side of my foot.

Overcome with that initial rush of pain, a side of frustration, and a teaspoon of anger I hobbled to the side of the court.

I sat there with my foot elevated and a shameful bag of ice as my teammate completed her shooting session. Scenarios of the repercussions of my ankle roll flooded my mind as I waited. The initial pain was quite severe so of course my brain imagined the worst possible scenarios at first. I could barely climb the stairs out of the gym that morning. I was beside myself with frustration.

It was right then and there when I was sitting in the car waiting for our next session, as tears tried to leak out of the corners of my eyes, that my heart was convicted.

You see, just a few days earlier I had read an article about a man who had just lost everything and despite his earthly trials was still praising God. And he even mentioned that he wasn’t just praising God in the storm but rather he was praising God because of the storm. 

In that moment it all came together for me. I was in a storm. And while I was far from losing everything, I did feel like I was losing. And the last thing my heart wanted to do was praise God for this storm. Not only I had let my earthly dreams and goals briefly overshadow why I am really here in the first place, but I also forgot that I’m not actually the one in control.

And that’s where I was wrong.

I am not in control. God is. I’m not here because I deserve to be. I’m here because God has placed me here and is using me for His plan and glory.

How could I let a swollen ankle overshadow my value in God’s kingdom?

Without Him my ankle may seem like a key aspect of my value. I wouldn’t be a very good professional basketball player without it. But through knowing Him I understand that my value isn’t something that can be reduced or tampered with. I am a daughter of the King of the Universe. The king who sent his only son to die for us so we could be saved. Nothing on this earth, physical or non-physical, can take that from me.

As it turns out, it’s just a minor ankle sprain. I should be back training by Monday, and feeling 100% by the end of the week. I’m thankful it wasn’t worse. And as weird as it sounds, I’m also thankful it all happened. I’m thankful I had this opportunity to check my heart before it slid deeper down the slippery slope of control and worldly values.

As I continue to be reminded of my weaknesses I am also reminded that He is my strength – and that His power is made perfect in my weakness. How amazing is that?

Praise God for the sun.

Praise God for the rain.

He is good.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”  Isaiah 43:2

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” – James 1:2 

The Injury I Didn’t Know I Needed 2017-09-04T03:55:53+00:00

AmeriCup Champs

2017-08-21T13:27:07+00:00

Exactly a week ago I came home. The left water bottle pouch on my backpack was filled with a handful of confetti.

And somewhere amidst that confetti there was a gold medal.


I was returning from Buenos Aires where I was a member of the Canadian National team for the 2017 FIBA AmeriCup. We had just won the tournament. If you’re wondering, this tournament is where teams from North, South, and Central America earn their bids to the FIBA World Championship which will be held in Spain next fall. Only the top three teams from this tournament qualify.

One of those teams was us.

It was a gruelling 8 day tournament that began with 4 rounds of group play and finished with semi-finals and finals. 6 games in 8 days.

We went undefeated in pool play, experiencing many different tests and growing as a team along the way. After pool play we had to face our long time South American rival, Brazil, in the semi final game. Our pieces came together at just the right time. We played tough and together and handily won that game.

It was time for the grand final. Our opponent: home team Argentina. We knew it was going to be far from easy. They, like us were also undefeated. This was their home court. The stands would be filled with passionate…flag waving…yelling…whistling Argentinians.

We got booed as we ran onto the court before warm-ups.

Tip off came and Argentina jumped to a 8-0 run before we were able to get on the board. The first half was a battle and we weren’t quite able to settle in. The crowd roared when Argentina did anything good. They clapped and shouted to distract us. The environment left our ears ringing. At halftime we regrouped, we were only down by 7 but it felt like it could’ve been more than that. We battled for the first few minutes and then things started to go our way. We drew some key fouls, and made some crucial shots.

The game was tied.

Click up Sports Photography

We didn’t look back for the rest of the quarter as our lead grew to 9 points. That momentum kept going into the fourth quarter as we tallied up a 12 point lead.

Then Argentina started to draw fouls and they clawed their way back.

With two and a half minutes left they took a one point lead.

Our point guard hit a shot with just over a minute left and that was the game. They were forced to foul in the final minute to get possession of the ball back. Their talented point guard got off a final 3 point shot (that would’ve won them the game) with two seconds remaining, but it was not to be.

WE WON!

Celebration ensued. There was running and jumping and hugging and dancing. It was a whole lot of fun. We belted out the national anthem with our raspy voices (from cheering/yelling so loudly during the final game) and accepted our gold medals. It was a moment to remember forever.

And just when I thought the moment couldn’t get any better.

They showered us in confetti.

As per (OSU) tradition both Jamie and I got down and made some confetti angels as it fluttered  down from the sky.

Simply magical.

When we got back to the hotel that night we had some pizza and champagne to celebrate. The pizza was a nice mix up from the chicken, pasta, and lentils we had been eating for the past two weeks.

The next morning we began our trek home. It was a 14+ hour flight from Buenos Aires to Toronto with a quick stopover in Chile. Once we landed in Toronto most people were home, but my day was just beginning. It took another 13 hours before I flew across Canada and then up North to my lovely little hometown of Houston.

Looking back on the summer I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to represent my country at the highest level. I feel like I made the right decision to take the whole summer and commit to the team fully. I had the chance to get to know my teammates on a deeper level and learn from them. I grew as a person, athlete, and player with the help of so many great coaches and staff. Oh, and not to mention I travelled to four different countries to simply chase an orange ball around (okay, there may be little more to it than that 😉 ).

I’ve been at home just under a week, and it’s almost time to leave. I fly back to the land down under – this time trading the west coast for the south-east coast where I will play my second professional season for the Adelaide Lightning.

I’m excited for what’s ahead, but until then I’m just soaking up my time with my family here at home. It seems to fly by all too fast, but then again what doesn’t?

AmeriCup Champs 2017-08-21T13:27:07+00:00

The Whirlwind Continues

2017-07-29T10:08:19+00:00

Summers for me have always been whirlwinds, and this summer has been no different.

We finished our last three games in China with two wins and one loss. The final loss came from Team China once again but we held on a lot longer the second time and it went right down to the final minutes. Overall it was a great trip and we grew a lot as a team and made some very important strides forward.

After the last day of competition it was time to head home.

We flew into Shanghai and didn’t have to leave our hotel until 12:30pm of the following day as that was when our to Toronto departed.

That morning before our flight my roommate, Abi, and I decided to go for an adventure in downtown Shanghai. I mean, how many times are you just casually in Shanghai for a morning? We had to make the most of it. So the night before we scoured Trip Advisor for something that was decently close to us, and was worth the the trip. After our research we ended up deciding to take the subway to The Bund (which is actually rated the #1 place to visit in Shanghai).

We woke up early the next morning and headed downtown for some adventures. We found the subway pretty easily and thankfully all the maps had English versions so we got on the right train and headed for The Bund. When we got to our station to get off we didn’t really know which way to head for The Bund but we did our best. There was probably about 40 minutes of wandering around lost before we found what we had been looking for. We walked crossed over the river on a footbridge and immediately knew we were in the right place. The Shanghai skyline was unmistakable.

The riverwalk stretched on with seemingly endless clean paths with flowers and benches to sit on. It was beautiful. Abi and I walked down it for quite some time, snapping pictures and just taking in the views.

We then decided to venture into the streets to hopefully find some fun souvenirs to take home. We didn’t find much but we did find a place to buy water as the humidity and warmth of the day was finally setting in, that was clutch.

We found a different subway station and figured out our route back to the hotel. We made it back with time to spare, and were quite satisfied with our spontaneous morning adventure. We showered, zipped our suitcases one final time and then it was time to head to the airport.

The flight back was smooth. I got an exit row so I had no complaints. I think after all my flights to and from Australia, and now China, I am just getting accustomed to flights that take 11+ hours.

I spent the night in Toronto and then flew to Seattle the next morning. I could have gone home during this break, but I really wanted to go visit one of my best friends from college who was home in-between her internships at NASA and grad school. The timing was perfect, and I figured I would be able to train as well anywhere as I would in Houston.

We decided to go on a road trip during this small break.

And of course, if you know me at all, you know I like to go big or go home.

So what did we do? We planned a 10 day road trip, through 6 national parks of the Northwestern United States. Yolo right?

I landed in Seattle on the 11th of July. We spent this whole day packing and finalizing our plans for the trip. We packed our sleeping bags, tent, food, and clothes into Sadie’s grandma’s Prius that she had graciously lent to us for the trip. The next morning, after a quick stop at Olympia Coffee Roasters, we were off like a herd of turtles.

We stopped in Portland to make a couple important stops. The first one was Salt n Straw, the famous gourmet ice cream shop. The second stop was at the Nike store so I could get some gear before I head to Australia in August. We got stuck in Portland traffic so it took us longer than planned to get to our first National Park stop, Crater Lake. It was past 11pm when we finally drove into the park. Our Prius’ (not so powerful) headlights were illuminating banks of snow along the road as we tried to find the campground. A sign on the side of the road read “Falling will cause injury or death, stay back from edges”. That terrified us as it was pitch black so we couldn’t see past the 10 feet of road in front of us. As we tried to go further we found that the road to our campground was closed. At this point we were also far out of cell service range.

Luckily I remembered there was a campground less than 10 miles from where we were in a surrounding park called Diamond Lake. We turned around (very carefully) headed towards it.

We found an empty campsite. In fact, all of the campsites seemed empty, but fortunately there was an RV parked nearby so we didn’t feel completely isolated in the middle of nowhere. We quickly set up the tent while being eaten alive by mosquitoes and then scrambled in for some sleep.

It turned out we set up the tent on a minor slope and it was really hard to sleep all night because I kept having to brace my body against the gravity that was pulling it down. It was also very cold that night, and the first night of sleeping on the ground after comfy mattresses is always a shock to the system.

After waking up the next morning we made some breakfast and while we ate our eggs and hash browns we also provided the mosquitoes with a nice snack.

After breakfast we headed out to explore what Crater Lake had to offer. We drove around the rim road, stopping at viewpoints and the visitor centre to get a map. We continued driving as far as we could (a lot of the road was still closed due to snow), and did a short hike to a lookout of the lake. After that we headed back to the east side and hiked down to the lake itself.

One thing about Crater Lake is the colour of the water. It’s so blue. And not just an average blue, but a deep cobalt blue that looks almost electric. It’s absolutely beautiful.

We scoped out the cliff near the area where people were swimming. We both wanted to cliff jump but we also didn’t want to do anything stupid so we waited until we saw some other people jump. Once we knew it was safe we barrelled in the cobalt waters ourselves.

It was a blast!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Yes, you are right. The water was absolutely freezing. Thankfully it was a hot day so after even just a minute of sitting on the rocks after swimming to shore you were ready to do it all over again.

After diving until our hearts were content we headed back to Diamond Lake to find a different campground (turned out the ones at Crater Lake were either all booked or closed). We found a beautiful spot right on the lake and set up camp. We did a quick bodyweight workout and then jumped in the lake to refresh ourselves before dinner. Right before dinnertime our friend from college, Dylan, popped over to hangout with us for the evening. We cooked some dinner, jumped in the lake once again (yes it was cold), made s’mores over the fire and then after it got dark we all went down to the dock and talked while we watched the stars until we got tired. It was the perfect way to end a great day.

The second night of sleeping on the ground was a lot better. Granted I had taken some NyQuil because I came down with a bit of a cold on the flight home and that also knocked me right out.

The next morning we woke up, made some more eggs and hash browns for breakfast, and then packed up camp and headed East. Our original plan was to get to eastern Nevada that night but we decided it would make the next day too rushed so we drove all the way from Crater Lake to Salt Lake City, Utah that day. It was a really long day but we jammed out to practically every song we had in our libraries and the unique landscapes we drove through also really helped keep it interesting as the miles piled up on our odometer.

We made it to Sadie’s friend’s place in Salt Lake and crashed there for the night. A hot shower and mattress felt really good after being crammed into the Prius all day.

The next morning we had breakfast with her friend and then headed to a local community centre so I could get my workout for the day in. Sadie helped rebound for me as I did some skill work and then we both lifted and got some cardio in before we loaded up into the Prius (newly nicknamed Pri Pri at this point) for another day of adventures.

We did a quick hike just south of Salt Lake on a trail to what is known as Donut Falls. It was labelled as a ‘easy hike with shallow elevation gain’, so perfect for what we needed that afternoon.

Well I don’t know who gave that hike a rating of ‘easy’ but after about 2 miles of fair hiking we found ourselves literally scaling a waterfall. Our shoes were soaked with water as we clambered up to see the donut falls themselves.

It was beautiful, except the fact that we had to weave through 104835 young children who were also hiking the same path as us. But once we got there it was worth it. The Donut Falls consisted of a donut shaped hole at the top of a waterfall where water streamed down into a small cavern before continuing it’s journey down the rocky gradient.

After taking in the beauty of the waterfall, and refreshing ourselves in its cool water, we headed back down the trail to our car. Our goal was to make it to Arches National Park before sunset. It was just over a four hour drive and our only stops were for fuel and a quick dinner at Sadie’s favourite taco spot in Green River. We made it to the park just before sunset but didn’t factor in for how long it would take us to drive through the park. We passed a lot a beautiful viewpoints where we could’ve stopped and watched the sunset from but we really wanted to watch it from the most famous viewpoint, Delicate Arch. We continued on until we finally found the parking lot at its trailhead. We jumped out of the car with only cameras, headlamps, and water in hand. The sun was pretty much set at that point leaving the sky illuminated brilliantly. We had come this far so we figured we may as well see the delicate arch anyways.

Most everyone was coming back by now. They looked like little ants walking up the hillsides into the horizon. It took us about half an hour to get to the delicate arch, and we considered turning around multiple times (as we didn’t see people anymore and it was getting very dark). Our hearts pounded through our chests as we walked the final path to the arch, which wrapped around a cliffside and dropped a few hundred feet below to the ground level.

As we turned the corner to the arch we could see over a dozen people admiring it’s beauty and that immediately settled our hearts. We stood in awe for a few moments and then tried to take a picture or two, despite how dark it already was.

Some of the starts were becoming visible as we packed up to leave and we paused to admire them for a second. It was pretty much pitch black as we hiked back to the trailhead where Pri Pri waited for us. Thankfully Sadie’s  headlamp seemed to harness the power of 1000 suns, so we had no issue finding the trail.

And while finding the trail was no issue, finding a campsite was a whole other ball game. The campground in Arches was closed for construction so we headed into Moab to try and find a place to lay our heads. We tried a few RV parks but they cost upward of $40 dollars and we really couldn’t justify that cost for a mere rental of 20 square feet for 7 hours, so we kept looking. Exhaustion was starting to kick in as we drove around state campgrounds only to find them brimming with RV’s and tents already. Just before midnight we gave in a set up our tent by a picnic area because didn’t know what else to do and just needed sleep at that point. We got bombarded by strange bugs that seemed a hybrid of a moth and mosquito while we set our tent up. And while the tent protected us from those savage little creatures there was one thing it couldn’t keep out. The heat. It was so darn hot we barely slept at all that night. We even chatted for a few minutes at 3am and considered just packing up and heading for the Rockies right then and there. Thankfully, just after then it cooled down past 100 degrees F we were able to get a few short winks of sleep before our 5am alarm went off.

We hiked up to the windows and watched the sunrise through the north window arches. It was a beautiful sunrise and the way that the first rays of daylight illuminated the arches was unreal.

We walked around the loop and took a few fun pictures in the windows.

We then refilled our water canteens at the visitor centre, bought some postcards, and were on our way North!

It was another long day of driving but once again the diversity of the land we passed through was absolutely incredible. We left the red canyons of eastern Utah and traded them for a stretch of light green plains as we entered Colorado. The plains continued to grow until we found ourselves weaving through jagged mountain cliffs with clear rivers racing us alongside the highway.

Finally, as the mountains became a natural sight to our eyes, we found ourselves just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. We stopped at a little store just outside the entrance to pick up some firewood, and more importantly… some ice cream.

We stopped at the visitor centre and asked for a recommended hike and place to camp. We drove straight to our campground as all but one were already filled by that time. We quickly set up our tent before we ventured out to our hike. Some clouds were beginning to cover the sky and a few drops of rain began to drizzle down. Unfazed by the impending storm we hopped back into the car and drove to the trailhead. We were set to hike just over 3.5 miles up to Cascade Falls.

There were a few cracks of thunder behind us but we decided that we wouldn’t turn around unless we saw lightning. The dark clouds followed us for the first few miles but then it actually ended up clearing and turned into a beautiful evening. It took us just over an hour to get to the top of the falls. Whenever we were on the trail alone we sang out loud in order to deter any bears that may have been passing through the area. It worked, and the only wildlife we saw was a momma deer nursing twin fawns and a baby moose calf off in the distance, along with numerous squirrels, chipmunks, and marmots.

We made it to the top of the falls and were treated with spectacular views at the water plummeted down the alpine cliffside.

On our hike back we continued to sing as we walked, until two other travellers joined our path for a bit. These two travellers weren’t people though, they were two young moose! We stayed a decent distance behind them and just marvelled at their beauty at they meandered along our trail, grazing as they went. They were so casual, even after they saw us – I guess they must see people on their trails all the time.

They went off into the woods after about ten minutes and we continued on our journey back to the car. We were exhausted. Seven+ miles of hiking after driving all day was no joke.

We stopped at Grand Lake on our way back to our campsite and took a plunge off a boat dock. The water was super shallow so it was a good thing we had decided to just slip into the water rather than jump in. It was refreshing and freezing at the same time. We cranked the heat in Pri Pri as we drove back to the campsite.

Our dinner consisted of soup and sausages and after we sat around the fire for a while to warm our chilled bones from our post hike plunge in Grand Lake. It was so peaceful to just sit there surrounded by crisp mountain air, sipping hot chocolate, wrapped in a blanket, with the warming crackle of the campfire between us. The stars, once again, were amazing. The clouds had mostly cleared by now and they illuminated the night sky in a way that made one understand infinity if only for a brief moment.

We got a good sleep and packed up bright and early the next morning. We drove through the north side of the park to head into Boulder for a workout and to do laundry. Poor little Pri Pri really struggled to get up some of the elevation gains that the park road took us through. The view, however, was breathtaking. At one point we were at over 10,000 ft of elevation and still climbing. We stopped at a few lookouts to simply take it in and so I could snap some pictures. We saw a herd of Elk and some deer along the way too. The mountains spread out as far as the eye could see and the hillsides were painted with green.

We made it to Boulder and once again got a good workout in at the Community Centre before heading to the laundromat. We re-packed and re-organized the car while our laundry finished and then grabbed a quick bite to eat at a local BBQ spot. It was the perfect fuel for another long day of driving. This time we were headed up through Wyoming and into the tip of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. This countryside was vastly different from the jagged mountains of Northern Colorado. The plains of Wyoming rolled into the horizon. It was very empty and we didn’t pass through much civilization for most of the day, but there was a certain beauty about the uninhabited Wyoming hillsides.

We drove through a spectacular sunset.

It was dark and we were about an hour from our destination when the “Check Engine” light came on. I was sleeping at the time so Sadie woke me up after she pulled over and we popped open the hood. It appeared we were beginning to run low on oil so we noted to stop at a Totoya dealership when we passed through southern Montana in a days time. We made it to our intended campsite only to find it, and every campsite within 30 miles was full. We called every single hotel in the area too and not a single one of them had a room. So once again we were stuck between a rock and a hard place. It was past midnight already so we did the only logical thing and set our tent up in a truck rest stop alongside the highway.

You should’ve seen the looks on people faces as they drove past us the next morning as we took our tent down just after 7am. What a sight we must’ve been.

We headed into Grand Teton National Park to begin our adventures for the day. We found a picnic area and made our breakfast before heading to the visitor centre to figure out our ideal hike for the morning.

The ranger suggested a hike around Jenny lake to a waterfall and then down to the waterfront where we could ride the ferry back across the lake. The hike was a couple hours and it took us up to a beautiful overlook of the lake before taking us back down to the waterfront with the jagged mountains shadowing in the background.

After coming back across Jenny Lake we went out to a little peninsula where we jumped into the water to cool off from the heat of the day. The glacier-fed lake water did just that and we played in the water until we got too cold and decided to head to our next stop.

On our way out we stopped at the ferry ticket booth because they had these awesome trucker hats that said “Wyoming Surf Co.” and had a picture of a buffalo on a surfboard. Of course we had to get them.

With our new hats on our heads we headed out of Grand Teton and headed into it’s big brother National Park, Yellowstone. We drove up the west side of the loop stopping at the places we decided would be the most important. Old Faithful was of course one of the highlights, and we even arrived just 15 minutes before she blew for the third time that day. It was incredible to see hundreds of people gathered around this ancient geyser as over a hundred feet of boiling water blew out of the ground like clockwork. I definitely understand how she got her name.

We stopped at a few more geysers and walked around the boardwalks of the perfectly aqua coloured pools as they steamed amidst the crisp mountain air. My favourite was the Grand Prismatic geyser because of the rainbow of colours it offered to those standing on its edges. The furthest edges were a deep auburn orange eventually fading into the perfect aqua blue of the water it held.

We finished our route through the park with a final walk through the Mammoth Hot Springs and then drove through Roosevelt’s Arch. The arch was constructed during the early years of Yellowstone National Park and greets the visitor with the words “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People”. I think it’s a beautiful statement and emphasizes the importance of National Parks as I truly believe that all people can benefit from spending time in nature.

We drove to Bozeman that evening and stayed in a hotel for the night. We both really needed showers and also a good night’s sleep was overdue by that point too.

The next morning I worked out, and then once the Toyota dealership opened we took the car in to get the oil changed. Thankfully they were able to squeeze us in and we only had to wait about an hour for the car to be ready. We wrote on our postcards while we waited.

Finally, we were off to our final park. It was only about five hours to Glacier National Park from Bozeman. We made it there in the late afternoon. Of course, there wasn’t a empty campsite to be found within the park, but thankfully a ranger pointed us in the direction of a campground on a lakeside reservation just east of the park. It turned out to be in a beautiful field that was right in front of a lake that overlooked Glacier.

We set up our tent and relaxed for a little bit and then Sadie and I ran some sprint intervals before we jumped straight into the lake to cool down. We tied our hammocks by the lake and just sat there in perfect peace as we listened to the audiobook we had started the day before while watching the sun melt into the distant mountains.

After that we made a campfire and cooked some delicious tin foil veggie and potato packets for dinner. The night finished with s’mores and then we sat around the fire under the stars before finally giving into the exhaustion. It was probably my favourite evening of the whole trip.

We got early start the next morning (I’m sure you’re sensing this is a common theme by now #TeamNoSleep). We packed up and left our lovely little campground to venture into Glacier. We knew that most campsites filled before 9am so we intended to finally get to camp in a National Park on the last night of our road trip. The first two campsites were already lining up with campers so we decided to go deeper into the park. It took us over an hour to simply get to the next closest campsite, Avalanche campground. After four laps of the campground itself some lovely older gentlemen let us clip our reservation coupon on the campsite’s pole, and put down two chairs to mark our territory while they packed up. Relieved that we finally had a campsite locked down we headed back across the park to find a picnic area to make some breakfast.

We made our breakfast at the Sun Point trail head and just as we were cleaning up a ranger came over to let us know he was starting a guided hike in 20 minutes. It was perfect! We finished cleaning up, got our water bottles, snacks, and bathing suits into our backpacks and headed off for another adventure. It was only a 0.85 mile hike but it took over an hour with the ranger guiding it and telling us history along the way. It was awesome. When we got to the waterfall at the end of the trail we decided to keep going to the next waterfalls along with a group of two older couples we had met on the guided hike. We chatted with them as we walked along the trails decorated with fireweed and Saskatoon bushes. They were lovely people and it was fun getting to know them.

When we got to the first waterfall we decided to jump off the cliff into it (are you really surprised?). It was awesome. It was also very cold, but was very refreshing after hiking for a couple miles.

We kept going to the next waterfall which was another mile away, but it was worth the hike.

We walked back with our new friends but we parted ways at the St. Mary’s Lake viewpoint as they were headed a different direction. Sadie and I made it back to Pri Pri, which may I add was also very dirty by this point. We headed back along the Going to the Sun Road, this time bound for Lake McDonald. 

We passed a waterfall that was alongside the road. When we had passed it earlier that day and I told Sadie we should totally stand underneath it. Well this was our opportunity. We parked in the pullout and ran alongside the cliff edge to the waterfall and stood under it like it was a giant shower. It was awesome! Oh and did I mention that the sun was in the perfect place at this time that there was even a rainbow shining on the waterfall at that very moment!? Yeah I’m serious…

We then headed to Lake McDonald with the intentions of renting paddle boards and enjoying the sunset from the lake, but it was too windy so they wouldn’t let us rent the paddle boards. So we opted to get some ice cream and just side alongside the shore. They even had Huckleberry ice cream (I love huckleberries!) and we just sat there in pure contentment. It was actually still a bit warm by the time we finished out ice cream so we decided we should jump off the dock. The water was so clear it was beautiful. We then dried on the dock for a bit before we headed back to our car.

When we got back to our car there was a little girl (maybe like 5 or 6 years old) and her mom getting out of the truck next to Pri Pri. Now let me preface this story with the fact that Sadie is 5’2″ and I am 6’7″, so this whole trip we were used to causing a bit of a scene wherever we went. Sadie was about to get into the driver’s seat when this little girl stopped me to ask.

“Excuse me, are you her mom?”

I couldn’t keep a straight face.

“No, We’re just friends. We’re the same age actually”

“But she seems pretty small”

“No I’m just super tall so I make her look small”

“Oh, she’s still a little bit little though right?”

At this point we were both dying of laughter.

“Yeah, I guess she is”

When we got into the car Sadie asked me, “Did I just get asked if I’m a little person?”. The laughter continued.

We got back to camp and cooked a quick dinner. We set up the tent but I also decided that I wanted to try sleeping in my hammock that night too. I convinced Sadie to join me and both started the night in our hammocks and had the tent there incase that plan didn’t work out. I was worried about getting cold in my hammock but it turns out they actually hold in the heat quite well. I managed to last the whole night sleeping in my hammock, although my back was a little sore from being at a slight curve all night. Sadie had to get up in the middle of the night so she ended up just sleeping in the tent after that as it was a simpler entrance plan than jumping into a hammock, in a sleeping bag, in the dark.

In the morning we packed up and headed home.

11 hours later we drove into the driveway of Sadie’s house in Olympia.

We did it.

What a trip that was.

We definitely barely skimmed the surface of each park we went to, but even the surface of those parks was incredible. I know that I hope to get back to each one and dig deeper into their trails and hidden gems. It never ceases to amaze me how much of the world is out there to explore!

Anyways the next day Sadie and I cleaned out the car and got things reorganized. I had to repack all my gear into my suitcase because I was going to fly out for Edmonton the following day.

It was hard to say goodbye to Sadie because I knew how much I would miss her. I am so happy that we were able to take this time and spent it with each other though. She made for a great road trip buddy as she would always talk sense into me as I tried to fill the days with more than what was humanly possible, and we were both always up for an new adventure. She was willing to take the extra time to ensure I got my workouts in despite it cutting into ‘holiday time’, but she never complained just understood that it had to be done. We shared many laughs and made new memories that will last a lifetime. Thank you for joining me on this adventure Sadie!

On Sunday I flew back to Edmonton for the last phase of Team Canada for the summer. We had four days straight of practice as we prepared for competition and the coaches determined the final roster that will compete in the FIBA AmeriCup in Argentina this August.

Thursday after practice we had meetings with the coaches and that’s when I first learned that I had finally made the Senior National Team!

After four years of “almost” making it, I had finally reached my goal. To say I was really excited would be an understatement.

We had the next day off and then it’s straight back to practice today for our final four practices before we fly south to Argentina. It’s an exciting and very focused time as competition draws near. This year it is the qualifying tournament for next year’s World Cup in Spain so it’s very important that we do well as a team.

So yes, the whirlwind of a summer continues. But to be honest with you, I like it this way.

It certainly keeps life interesting.

 

The Whirlwind Continues 2017-07-29T10:08:19+00:00

Letter from Liupanshui

2017-07-06T10:52:21+00:00

It seems hard to believe that we’ve been in China for over a week now. Here’s a quick update on what’s happened so far!

We made it to Beijing after our 11 hour flight from Vancouver. Our next flight didn’t connect until the next morning so we grabbed a quick dinner and headed to bed by 7pm. Thankfully we were so exhausted by then that falling asleep wasn’t an issue at all.

The next morning came all too fast as we had to have the bus loaded and ready to roll by 3:15am. We made it to the airport and connected on our flight to our first destination, Xilinhot, China which is in the autonomous province of Inner Mongolia. It was a very different first impression from most of the other cities in China I’ve been to so far. It was very flat and the land seemed cultivated. The housing developments were quite spread out, a stark difference from the skyscrapers of Beijing. It looked very new and young, as if most of the development has happened in the last 20 years or so. We got to out hotel, which overlooked what seemed to be an old horse racing track. I would’ve been so excited if it hadn’t been abandoned.

After we unloaded our bags we went on a quick team walk to get our legs moving. We walked down the street to the town square where there was a pretty neat fountain sort of thing that was incorporated right into the street. If I hadn’t been holding my new camera I would’ve for sure ran right though it.

We practiced that night and twice the next day in preparation for our upcoming games. They were only one hour practices each but the gym had absolutely no AC so we probably sweat the same amount in that one hour as we would’ve in a normal three hour practice. It felt good to get our bodies moving again, and with each ticking hour the excitement and anticipation of the games was building.

We played Lithuania first and managed to scrap out a win in that game, although it wasn’t pretty. It did feel good to finally play another opponent after over a week of competing against ourselves and we knew we would only get better as each game progressed.

The next morning, before our team film review of Belarus, a few of us headed to the morning market that was right around the corner from our hotel. It was a lot to take in. They had literally everything a person could ever need there (along with a few things a person really doesn’t need…). There were trinkets, clothing, household goods, fresh food, live fish… and so much more. There were so many varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables, but I looked past the piles of melons and carrots; there was only one thing I wanted. Mangosteens.

Mangosteens were introduced to me by the amazing woman behind the scenes for Canada Basketball, Elaine. They’re her favourite fruit ever and I had to try one the last time I was in China (back in 2015) just to make her proud. I still remember peeling off the thick, waxy purple skin and questioning how the fruit inside could possibly be appetizing. It took me by surprise when out popped a perfectly formed opaque fruit that resembled a peeled mandarin but tastes like the sweet nectar of heaven.

So yes, of course I wanted to find some more Mangosteens. We finally ran across a woman who was selling them and did our best at bartering (which apparently everyone there does) but it really ended up in us paying full price of 23 yuan after awkwardly trying to pay only 20 yuan. We finished walking through the market. The final section was a full meat section with tables full of beef, pork, and lamb cuts (including heads) just sitting (and if lucky, covered by a fly net) ready to be sold.

We went back to the hotel and got ready for our game vs. Belarus. We jumped out to a strong start but they fought hard to come back and made it a close game through four quarters which was a good learning experience for us all. We ended up winning that game 55-48. A 2-0 start to the tournament felt pretty good despite the fact that we hadn’t been playing our best basketball yet.

The next day we played the home team, China. We started out strong once again but they were relentless in the way they attacked our defence and they ended up holding a pretty steady lead throughout the second half. They had some strong centres that I was matched up against and I really enjoyed the challenge that was presented to me and my fellow Canadian posts. It wasn’t fun to lose but I think we grew a lot during that game. At the end of the game we challenged ourselves to keep growing because we knew we would have the awesome opportunity to play them once again before we left China.

The next morning we packed up our bags once again and headed to the airport. We flew to Beijing and had the afternoon off before we travelled to our next city the following day. We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to go visit the Forbidden City in Tia’namen Square, which served as the Chinese Imperial Palace from 1420 to 1912. Today its complex of over 980 buildings and 180 acres serves as an art museum to 14 million visitors annually, now including the 21 of us.

We took the subway to the square and passed through about four levels of security and ID checks before we were actually in the palace. It was huge. The path we walked ended up being pretty much a b-line through the middle, missing all the side buildings and rooms (many of which you could not access), and it still took us over an hour to walk through the whole thing. There was immaculate detail everywhere you looked, from the limestone pillar carvings to the line of golden animal statues perched on every roof corner.

It was amazing to simply wander though a place where so much history had happened.

Lots of people also took pictures of and with us as we wandered through. One fun moment I had was when a father was taking a picture of his daughter doing some sort of tai chi pose on a wall. I jokingly posed like her as I walked by and her dad thought it was awesome and signalled for me to hop in his picture. I joined excitedly, however his daughter was not having any of it as she shyly just stood there refusing to do the pose with this weird foreign giant girl. Thankfully the father didn’t leave me hanging and hopped into position and we shared a moment of laughter that broke down any language barrier that existed in that moment. Thankfully the joy that was shared in that moment was still captured, despite the woman who walked in front of the camera at the wrong time. This will forever be one of my favourite pictures.

After walking through multiple courtyards and peering into palaces we came into the Imperial Garden, which was definitely my favourite places. There were amazing trees and flowers scattered among beautifully designed gazebos and temples.

Once we made it to the end we regrouped with the rest of the team and tried to catch some cabs back to the hotel. We ran into some issued because it only cost the coaches 26 yuan to get to the square but the drivers wanted over 100 yuan to take us back to our hotel. That wasn’t going to happen. For about 20 minutes we tried to hail a taxi while almost getting run over by vehicles. The little bike taxis tried to pick us up but they also wanted 100 yuan and only two people could fit in those. We finally gave up and walked all the way around the square (about 2 miles) to where we started and took the subway back. When we finally got back to our hotel we were exhausted but it ended up working well because we all crashed after dinner and ended up sleeping really well that night.

The next morning our plans changed a bit as our original flight was cancelled but it ended up allowing us to sleep in a bit. Laura, my roommate, and I went to McDonald’s for breakfast to get some wifi and do some reading before the day began. The bus left the hotel at 10:30 and we were off for the day. The flight to Guiyang was about 2 hours, 45 minutes. That was the short leg of our travel for the day however. Our bus met us at the airport and we loaded up for a 3.5 hour bus ride that weaved through the most unique and amazing mountain formations I’ve ever seen.

Our bus was a top decker so Abi and I hopped in the front seat of the top deck and were treated to the most incredible view for that whole bus ride. Our team liaison, Mike, came up front too for a while and we fired questions about the geography and culture of the area. It was fascinating to learn from him. There were terraced rice patties, water buffalo, and corn fields up the mountains. Every corner our bus took there was a next sight to behold.

A lot of the communities we passed looked very desolate. Hollow skyscrapers and houses framed the hillsides. It was kind of eerie sometimes.

During this bus ride we couldn’t help but imagine what our destination city, Liupanshui, would be like. Would it be a village? How is there even a basketball arena up here? So many questions flooded our minds.

But then, after the sun had set our headlights turned a corner and we were greeted by bright city lights! Not even just bright lights, but bright neon lights! The trees had lights on them, buildings were flashing. I felt like I was in Vegas all over again. We were dazed and excited. How this incredible city came to be inside of these mountains didn’t make sense to me but I was already a fan!

And that brings us to where I am today. In this incredible city known as Liupanshui tucked within the South Western Chinese mountains. We play Lithuania today to kick off our final leg of three games. I’m excited to see how much we’ve improved since last week when we played them!

Go Canada!

 

Letter from Liupanshui 2017-07-06T10:52:21+00:00

Summer Check In

2017-06-27T10:19:07+00:00

This summer has been a whirlwind so far. I can hardly believe it’s already the end of June!

Anyways, just to update you all on what’s been going on.

I got back from Australia on April 12th. Just in time for Easter weekend with the family. My brother and his family (who live on Vancouver Island) were even able to make it up to Houston marking it as the first time our whole family had been together in over two years!

I spent the next month at home, training and just soaking up family time. It was by far the longest I had been in Houston since the day I graduated high school. In some ways it felt weird. As if so much had changed and yet everything was the same. Nonetheless, it was a great time. I got to ride my horses, play with my nephew, and catch up with old friends.

During that time I was also training in preparation for Team Canada training camp, which began May 12th. And so time flew, as it usually does, and once again I found myself packing up my bags for the summer and boarding a flight to Edmonton. The training camp itself was ten days where we implemented our system and prepared for the games ahead. The competition part of the first phase for team Canada was a European tour which involved a total of five games played within eight days in Spain and France.

Our first destination was a town in Northern Spain called Torrelavega. We arrived there on May 24th after a few long flights across both the Atlantic Ocean and Europe, ultimately ending with a 5 hour bus ride through the Spanish countryside.

We had a day before our games began so we got two practices in, it felt good to get the legs moving again after those long days of travel.

We played Spain first and Japan second. It was fun to finally get out there after working so hard during training camp and get to have some new competition. We lost our first game to Spain, it was a close one for most of the time but in the final quarter they were able to pull away as fouls and missed free throws really caught up to us. The game vs. Japan was very different from the night before as they were a very fast paced team and could shoot the three from the 1-5 positions. We battled it out and got our first win of the Quad in a close game, despite being up by 20 during parts of the game.

We had a day in Spain before we headed to France. Japan and Spain played each other that day so we practiced in the morning, had the afternoon off, and then went to watch their game in the evening. My adventurous side kicked in when I found of we had the afternoon off, so of course I tried to find some way to explore this cute Spanish town we were staying in.

I found a bike hire business about 20 minutes from where we were staying, and it turns out he was able to deliver the bikes right to our front door! It cost 18 Euros for a whole day bike hire, and was totally worth it. I asked Jamie if she was down for an adventure, and to no surprise she was, so we grabbed a quick lunch after practice and then headed off on our bikes. To guide our ways I had a vague map from the hotel concierge and the directions she gave us to find this trail that would take us straight to the ocean (which was about 10km from our hotel).

We biked to the river as she directed but we couldn’t find the bridge we were supposed to cross. We biked down a little bit further and eventually found a bridge and crossed it. From there it was supposed to be a trail that led straight to the ocean. We were excited. That was… until the trail ended after like 500m and left us along the edge of a highway. We tried a few different paths, and got lost each time as they all came to abrupt endings. We ended up spending over an hour just biking around until we decided to just bike back along the river and go the opposite way we came as it seemed to be a nice trail there.

After biking down the path past the first bridge we crossed, we found another bridge. It turned out be the bridge we were supposed to take initially. It was also there that we found the sign to a trail, clear as daylight, that would lead us to the ocean. We looked at the clock. We had just over two hours before we had to return the bikes and get on the bus to the Spain/Japan game. We decided to just go for an hour and see how far we could get. Lance Armstrong mode was activated as we booked it down the beautiful path. It wasn’t long before it started pouring rain, but it just made our journey all the more epic. So there Jamie and I were, in the middle of Spain, zooming down this bike trail that led across the hillsides, streets, and backcountry of Torrelavega. In this moment I also realized I was actually witnessing the rain in Spain falling mainly on the plain. As a long time Audrey Hepburn fan, I thought that was pretty cool.

The rain didn’t slow us down, we passed through the countryside, and eventually around some type of sewage plant (at least it smelled like a sewage plant..). We were finally biking along the edges of the canal that led into the ocean by the town of Suances. We were probably less than a kilometre from the ocean itself but we had already used up our hour of time so we snapped a few quick pictures and raced back to our hotel.

Despite our legs getting pretty tired by the time we made it back to town, and the fact that the rain had started again, we pushed through and made it back with two minutes to spare. Sergio was already waiting to pick up our bikes and probably thought we were absolutely crazy for biking in the pouring rain, but we had no regrets.

We changed out of our sopping wet clothes and loaded up onto the bus to watch the Spain vs. Japan game. It was a good game but Spain pulled out the win after making big plays down the home stretch.

The next day we all loaded up on the bus to head to Bordeaux, France. It was a scheduled 4.5 hour bus ride, but we all made predictions on our arrival time because most of us know those predictions aren’t always accurate. I guesstimated 6 hours and 9 minutes of travel time. We made it there in 6 hours and 17 minutes, giving Shay the win on that mini bet.

We practiced the next day to prepare for our first game vs. Montenegro. We knew it was going to be a battle as they are known for playing with a ton of passion and pride.

When it came around to game time it was exactly that, a battle. We fought but fouls caught up to us in the end as we found ourselves in bonus far too early, giving them too many free points to seal their one point win in the end.

The next day we played the home team, France. It was another great game and we were in it for 38 minutes but they got the necessary rebounds and made the plays down the stretch to seal our fate.

Photo Credit: Romain Chaib

Our final game was vs. Ukraine, a pretty unpredictable team but with a couple athletes that could score a lot of points fairly easily. We jumped out to a strong start and they made their runs as us but we kept our pressure up and eventually won by almost 20.

Photo Credit: Romain Chaib

And that marked the end of the first Phase of the 2020 Olympic quad. We learned a lot of valuable lessons and got better each game. It was now time to head ‘home’ and rest up before Phase two began.

That night we were able to go adventure around downtown Bordeaux. We all took the train to the city centre and then split off into groups. I was with Saicha, Shay, and Leticia and we all set off on the mission to find some sort of ice cream or crêpes (ideally.. both). Unfortunately all the crêperies were already closed but we managed to find a nice little Gelateria to satisfy our sweet tooth.

The buildings we passed along the way weren’t too shabby either…

We flew out of Bordeaux, had an extremely tight connection in Paris and ultimately made it to Toronto. On landing in Toronto, after hearing each of our names called over the PA system, we became aware that every single one of our bags had been lost.

It took almost an hour to figure out how to deal with the bags and fill out the necessary claim forms. Many of us had also checked in team bags which further complicated the process compared to if we had only checked in our personal bags.

I had to spend the night in Toronto anyways so I took the shuttle to my hotel for the night, had a quick shower, put on a clean outfit I luckily had packed in my carry-on, and then decided to head into downtown to explore a bit.

I met up with a friend and we took the UP Express into downtown where I finally got to go up in the CN tower despite how many times I’d been in Toronto and never done that.

It was a pretty decent view of the sunset from up top.

After that we went to check out a Ramen bar that my brother recommended to me, and oh my goodness it was delicious!

I then headed back to my hotel for a short night’s sleep before I left for the airport at 4am to catch my flight back to BC.

Unlike many of my teammates, I chose not to go home during this break but instead to make a trip over to Vancouver Island to visit my brother and his family!

It was an awesome time, just getting to catch up with them and I think the main highlight (sorry Gavin and Dawn) was my 10 month old nephew, Emmett.

What. A. Heartbreaker

Yes, my heart just melts every time I look into his big brown eyes.

I relaxed a fair bit during my visit with them. I would get my workout in and then either play with Em, or work on my to-do list, or just kick back. Once Gavin got home from work it was time to make an amazing dinner. We had some pretty epic homemade meals, from chicken curry, fish and chips,  to crab and prawns. We also had two beach picnics where we had hot dogs one time and a full on steak dinner the next. We even spent a few evenings playing their favourite new board game, Caverna. Sadly my board game losing streak continued (In my defence, I only get to play once a year when I’m with my family and they play practically year round) Life was good.

I also had the opportunity to get a few workouts with a trainer I knew from Nanaimo, Avneet Brar. It was awesome to not have to workout alone in the gym every day and also receive some feedback and coaching to help me improve as well.

And just as time does when you’re having fun, it flies. And before I knew it I was repacking my suitcase (which finally showed up after a week) and heading back to Edmonton for Phase two of Team Canada. My emotions felt mixed as it’s always hard to say goodbye to ones you love (especially when you have no idea when you’ll see them next) but I also felt a flood of excitement to get back with my team and continue our journey together.

And, after a week of training camp that brings us to today. This morning we loaded up extra early to fly to China where we play a series of six exhibition games vs. Lithuania, China, and Belarus. We’ve had a solid week of training camp and it will be fun to get to test out our hard work against some strong international competition.

Here’s to hoping I have an exit row for this 11 hour flight.

 

Summer Check In 2017-06-27T10:19:07+00:00

Thirty Years

2017-06-07T21:14:08+00:00

Thirty Years.

A lot can happen in thirty years. From falling in love, to starting a family, to making babies and settling down. It all seems so magical. But like I said, a lot can happen in thirty years. A pregnancy can go wrong, a family can fall apart, a business can fail, a dream can come crashing down.

Thirty Years.

A lot of decisions get made in those thirty years, from big decisions like career moves to the seemingly trivial like what colour of lights to put on the Christmas tree. But the most important one, the decision to never give up on each other. The decision to stand side by side on the mountain peaks and walk together through the darkest valleys. You chose each other every day. You chose to let God hold you together even when you were too weak to do so. You chose love.

Thirty Years.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for loving each other for thirty years. For the tough conversations you chose to have; for the sacrifices you made for each other. Thank you for letting God be your first priority and for showing me what it truly means to serve. Your steadfast love and commitment to each other is inspiring to those around you.

Here’s to the next.

Thirty Years.

Thirty Years 2017-06-07T21:14:08+00:00