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Shooting for success

August 8, 2016

Shooting for success
Laura Graham, a Sudbury, Ont., native, played guard for the majority of her basketball games last season and just completed her first year in Western’s Kinesiology program in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

From the moment Laura Graham stepped onto Western’s campus for a visit, the high school senior knew she had found her new home court. With a goal of one day playing semi-professional basketball in Europe, she needed to choose both the right school and team to help make that dream come true.

“Everything about Western blew me away,” she said. “The campus, the academic opportunities and the coach, Brian Cheng, were all amazing. I knew it was the place for me. Coming to university is a big leap. I think being involved in athletics makes you more organized and helps you develop.”

Her passion for the game began when she first picked up a basketball in Grade 5, she said. “Playing is a rush. It’s hard to explain what it feels like. I’m at my happiest when I’m playing basketball.”

Despite having natural talent and being tall for her age growing up, Graham is one of the shorter people in Canadian Interuniversity Sport, standing at 5 feet 8 inches. “It’s a challenge sometimes. I need to be more physical on the court and not get pushed around by people who are bigger than me.”

Although the team didn’t bring home the Ontario University Athletics trophy last season, they made it to the quarter finals, losing to Ryerson, who went on to take first place.

“I’m excited we got as far as we did and I’m looking forward to next season,” Graham said. “I hope we continue to get further every year and that we continue to improve as a team.”

Coach Brian Cheng says the team would not be able to compete at this level without the support of donors to Western’s Adopt A Mustang Program. The fund provides much-needed support, helping with recruitment, travel costs, equipment, uniforms and tournament fees.

“The Adopt A Mustang program is vital in helping to build the basketball program into a national contender,” he said. “With more than 1,000 student-athletes involved in 46 varsity teams each year, there are not enough resources for our team to excel without the additional support.”

Knowing donors are behind her and her teammates makes the experience even more meaningful, Graham said. “I’m so appreciative. Donor support has helped me and many other athletes to get so much closer to our goals.”

This article appeared in the 2016 edition of Annual Impact
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