It’s been a long time since aaliyah edwards has played basketball on the field of Ontario’s Frontenac High School.

The former Frontenac standout led the Falcons to city, regional and provincial championship titles.

“All of his success really doesn’t come as a surprise to any of us, because the moment he walked into the building we knew he was special and we knew he had a lot to give,” Falcons basketball coach Karlyn Pixley said.

Along the way, Edwards represented Ontario and eventually Canada, all in the 10th grade.

“It’s one of those things that it’s special to say that we trained her, but I think I learned more from her than she did from me,” Pixley said.

During her last two years of high school, Edwards transferred to Crestwood Preparatory College in Toronto before being drafted by the NCAA University of Connecticut Huskies.

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Aalyiah and her signature purple and gold tresses, which are a tribute to Kobe Bryant and the LA Lakers, have thrived at the American college level. She was named to the Big East All-Freshman team and sixth-team Woman of the Year in her first season and third-team All-American last year.

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“The standard and the level of excellence that they demand of us as athletes there, I think in that kind of environment every day you’re practicing against the best players who are my teammates, and then when we go to competitions, we’re going to the games. — we are prepared,” said Aaliyah Edwards.

His game has improved with each season. In 2022-23, he averaged a double-double per game with 18.3 points and 11 rebounds, and with Aaliyah on their roster, the UConn Huskies have had impressive seasons, reaching the final four in two of the three, including an appearance in the championship. game.

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And most of the time, their parents were nearby cheering them on from the stands. Last season, the Edwardses attended all but two of Aaliyah’s games, including away games. They even became the butt of jokes during televised games.

“You know, when you have nine or 10,000 people in a stadium, cheering on your daughter and her team, you can’t help but scream,” said Aaliyah’s mother, Jackie Edwards.

“For my parents to travel the distance and come, it’s crazy love for me, crazy love for what I’m passionate about and I’m grateful to have parents who are willing to do that,” Aaliyah said.

But last season didn’t go as planned. The Huskies were eliminated from the NCAA tournament at the Sweet Sixteen, ending a 14-year streak of advancing to at least the final four.

In what could be her final year in the NCAA, Aaliyah hopes the Huskies can return to the championship and get a different result.

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“You know, me as a competitor, I don’t settle for Sweet Sixteen. I want to go back to a national championship game. I have one more season to go, so that’s the goal,” Aaliyah said.

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“I think Aaliyah prepared herself for where she is now. She had that ethic when she was younger,” said Jackie Edwards. “When she was here in Frontenac, she understood that she would have to go to the gym before school and come back to the gym after school. So I think the commitment and dedication is off the charts, but she finds a way.”

And as if her list of accomplishments needed to be longer, Aaliyah has also racked up an impressive international resume.

He has played for Canada Basketball at every possible level, often returning home with a medal. She even competed when she was 18 at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. And in 2022 she was named MVP of the new Global Jam Under-23 tournament where Canada won gold.

“One of my dreams growing up was to become an Olympian, and to say that I’m an Olympian is just amazing,” Aaliyah said. “It just goes to show that if you really want something in life, you really have to work for it and you will earn it.”

Over the summer, Aaliyah has several more international commitments, as Team Canada participates in the Paris Olympics in 2024, with the goal of upping their effort in Tokyo, where they failed to make it out of the round robin.

“The objective is ‘Road to the podium’, we also have qualified in February. It’s a lot of moving pieces, but this summer my focus is mainly being with the national team, being with the seniors,” Aaliyah said.

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Having enjoyed success at every level and becoming one of the best in the NCAA, Aaliyah still isn’t satisfied and wants to take it to the next level by being drafted into the WNBA next summer.

“Oh? Absolutely! That’s the dream, that’s the vision. My goal is to get drafted. You know I would love to play in the WNBA,” Aaliyah said.

“And I see her there,” Jackie said. “With God’s will and her continued commitment to the sport, in five years I hope to see her in the WNBA and be happy.”

And while Toronto isn’t exactly Frontenac High School’s gym, as the league flirts with the idea of ​​Canadian expansion, a homecoming of sorts could be on the horizon for Aaliyah Edwards.

“My goal would definitely be to go back to Canada, go back to my roots, go back to the people I love and the country I love and play at home.”

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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