Each and every athlete around the world has his or her own inspiration.
For one of the University of Toronto’s newest faces in Emily Piccini family plays a big role in this, as her mother was the person responsible for turning Piccini onto the sport of basketball.
Another person that plays a big part where Piccini draws inspiration from is her brother.
“Well my brother is autistic, he doesn’t get to do everything that everyone else does, and he really keeps me pushing because I am so lucky to have what I have,” said Piccini.
“He loves coming to watch my basketball games, he always talks about them and I just love making him happy because he is such an awesome person and just full of love and I want to show him that I can be better than anything and that I can push myself.”
The 5-foot-10 guard found an early interest in soccer when she was around the age of six, around the same time a small conversation between her mother and a coach sparked a love for the game Piccini could not deny.
“I remember going into a house league in my hometown, Dundas and I remember, one of the coaches came over and was just like ‘Oh, you’re really athletic maybe I should put you on my rep team’ and that’s how it basically started,” said Piccini.
“I remember just loving the game, I didn’t get a lot of playing time obviously because I wasn’t very good but I started to develop and then I found out that I really loved the game.”
Piccini continued to find success in soccer and eventually volleyball in high school as she was named the most valuable player on both teams. In the end it was her love for the game of basketball that decided her fate when enrolling in a university.
Making the transition from high school to university basketball
isn’t described as an easy one. For Piccini there have only been a few adjustments that have been hard to make as she enters her freshman year.
“Definitely the practices being longer, so much more intense, I think that’s actually been helping me improve as a basketball player,” said Piccini.
“We definitely play at a much quicker pace than I’m used to in basketball, I’ve played against really good girls in Hamilton but I know this is definitely a step up.”
Balancing things as a student athlete such as practices and games along with academics can sometimes get in the way of progress. Michele Belanger, the head coach of the women’s basketball team at U. of T., believes that the university has the right programs in place to set these student athletes up for success.
“U. of T. does a really good job with help first years students adapt, there’s a lot of assistance available to them, they have seminars at the beginning of September that kind of explains things to them and gives them an opportunity to talk to people,” said Belanger.
“We the coaches are always there to provide guidance as well for them, so all we do is make sure that we talk.”
Behind a head coach entering her 35th season and a team that loves and embraces the company of Piccini the sky is the limit for this Life Sciences major who holds some realistic goals for this upcoming season.
“I’m going to try my hardest, I don’t know what to expect so I am just going to come in, play my hardest, play my best defence, play my best offence, cheer on my team and just hopefully we go far this year.”