Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Duo tastes hoops, hockey final four action

Oak Park's Stromberg, Oswald get far in high school playoffs in both sports

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FRIENDS since nursery school and teammates almost that long, Jasmine Stromberg and Sara Oswald combined hockey and hoops this season and have reached the final four in both.

Stromberg and Oswald, both Grade 11 students at Oak Park High School, competed Thursday night in the 2009 Milk AAAA Final Four High School Basketball Championship with the No. 5-seeded Oak Park Raiders against Vincent Massey in the University of Manitoba Investors Group Athletic Centre.

They were stymied that night, but Monday, the two will load their hockey bags and help the Raiders girls' hockey team take on the Lord Selkirk Royals in the first game of the best-of-three Winnipeg Women's High School Hockey League's Division I championship final at 6:15 p.m. at the Keith Bodley Arena.

"It's a huge honour to have the chance to be part of this, to come as far as we have and represent our school in both," said Oswald, a guard in basketball and forward in hockey. "Doing both, it's been stressful at times, for sure, but it's how we (she and Stromberg) grew up and that's the only way we know how to do it."

The two started playing hockey together at age eight in female minor hockey and started playing basketball at the same time in middle school. Both take their studies seriously -- Stromberg's academic average is in the 80s while Oswald's is 94.

Stromberg, a guard in basketball and a defenceman in hockey, said the key to doing both is organization and leaning on each other, as she noted Oswald is ultra-organized and helps her with scheduling.

"It's been an amazing experience to be playing both but especially because both teams have made it so far, it's just been a crazy experience," said Stromberg.

"We're so excited, it's just awesome. Both teams just really came together so it's been really good."

The two players said a big reason they were able to participate in both sports was due to the efforts of Raiders girls' basketball coach Murray Brown.

Because the two teams frequently held practices on the same days throughout the season, Brown scheduled the team's basketball practices around the hockey team's ice times whenever possible. Brown said that was possible because there is a lot more flexibility in the school's gym time than in set ice times in community arenas.

In hockey, Oak Park lost in last year's semifinals to four-time champion St. Mary's.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 20, 2009 C3

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