Catherine Traer comes to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on a winning note — and with some homework.
The fifth-year grad student scored 21 points and added 10 rebounds as the Carleton Ravens capped an undefeated season by defeating Saskatchewan 69-48 in the U Sports women's basketball championship game on March 11. Traer was named Carleton's player of the game as well as to the championship all-star team.
The 23-year-old from Chelsea, Que., is slated to graduate in April. Prior to the games, she interned at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Ottawa.
"It's great to end on a practical side," said Traer, who is working on her master's in political science.
Clearly skilled at time management, Traer juggled the demands of her studies, being a teacher's assistant and basketball.
"To be able to have somewhat of a good resume that doesn't just have basketball experience was something that was really important to me," she said. "Because I have a lot of friends working in politics, working in the government and building their careers. I didn't want to be left behind just because I was playing basketball so I'm really proud that I was able to do a lot of it. But obviously it was really hard. A lot of sleepless nights working on assignments and then early mornings going to work or going to school.
"But I'm really happy I was able to do it and I think anybody can do it. It's not that hard. If you're doing something you love, it makes it a lot easier. In the end it was all worth it, for sure."
Her studies took her to South Africa last May for a field research course on migration. Down the line, she hopes to get a job that involves immigration, refugee issues and international security.
"For now I think I'm just going to focus on basketball," she said.
A pro basketball career has always been a dream so the day job may be put on hold for a while. First up is one final school paper that needs to be finished during the Commonwealth Games.
In Australia, Traer will team up with Saskatchewan's Summer Masikewich, who led the Huskies with 19 points in the U Sports final.
Traer represented Canada at the 2017 World University Games in Taiwan and the U-24 Four Nations tournament in Tokyo that preceded it. She has also taken part in the Francophone Games.
The six-foot-one forward knows the Commonwealth Games basketball competition, which runs April 5 to 15, will be her stiffest test to date.
The Canadian women are in Pool A with Australia, England and Mozambique. Pool B consists of New Zealand, Jamaica, India and Malaysia.
Canada opens against England on April 6 at the Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre.
The Canadian men are in Pool A with Australia, Nigeria and New Zealand, opening April 6 against Australia at the Cairns Convention Centre. The men's Pool B is made up of England, Cameroon, India and Scotland.
In both competitions, all four countries from Pool A – the so-called power pool – will advance along with the top two from Pool B. The top two in Pool A will get byes to the semifinal with the remaining four teams meeting in quarter-finals to decide who joins them.
Traer spent the last two seasons at Carleton after transferring from the University of Ottawa to pursue her post-graduate studies. It was a bold move, considering Traer comes from a family with deep Gee-Gee roots.
Father Rick, a former Basketball Canada executive director, played for Ottawa and was an assistant coach. Mother Francine taught in the education faculty there. Brother Zach was a walk-on with the Gee-Gees men's team and served as a colour commentator on the team this season. Ottawa basketball games were a weekly tradition for the family.
"My brother and I literally grew up in that gym," said Catherine Traer.
But she says her father has adjusted to her switch to rival Carleton.
"My dad ended up wearing a Carleton hoodie at nationals. That was huge for him. That was the first time in two years."
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