Student athlete Riya Donnelly, a soon-to-be graduate of Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute, will be crossing over the border and driving the lane to Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
Donnelly, the provinces seventh-ranked varsity girls basketball player according to a panel of high school coaches, has committed to playing with the Algoma Thunderbirds for the 2022-23 season.
Im definitely relieved I got the signing over with, and Im committed to a place I think I can do really well in. So, that takes a lot off my plate, said Donnelly, who was also a member of the Winnipeg Wildcats basketball club.
Donnelly visited Sudbury and the Algoma campus and found it calling her name.
I loved the people. I loved the culture. I loved everything about it, she said.
When looking back on her time in high school, Donnelly said, the crowds of raucous students shaking the stands will stick in her memory.
DMCI is known for their excessive crowds. We have very loud crowds, very loud stands, and theyre usually very packed, she said. You never see that much support for a school, and to see so many people come out and watch is very empowering and just fun to be a part of.
Over her high school years, Donnelly worked hard to improve every aspect of her game. She embraced every challenge thrown at her. She learned to play the role of mock centre when needed, then transitioned to guard, which is probably the absolute opposite of playing centre, she said.
Donnelly was quick to say she didnt improve her skills on her own. She credited her coaches Wyatt Anders, Carriera Lamoureux, and Nick Fletcher for spending the time with her in the gym, helping her to take her game to a new level.
Anders commended Donnellys dedication to the game, which took her from being unknown in Manitoba basketball to turning heads in just two years.
Riya has one of rare character traits you can get in a program one thats committed, dedicated, has leadership qualities, is more mature than she should be at her age. And it reflects off and on the court, whether its her studies or basketball skills… she deserves every opportunity she gets, Anders said.
It wasnt only Donnellys coaches doing reps and boosting her up. Her whole family pitched in and supported her, she said.
My parents and my sister put a lot of time in with me in the gym to get better and to work on my speed or my agility, my ball handling, my shooting, so many things ever since I started, Donnelly said.
After signing, Donnelly said it hit her just how much people had rallied behind her.
I got to thank each and every one of them in some way, she said. And I really just want to make sure my family knows especially, how much they are important to me and how much time my dad put in with me and put up with me, especially during the pandemic when we were stuck seeing family every day. I want him to know how grateful and appreciative of everything that hes done since I started playing.
Donnelly plans to study finance and economics with a minor in law and justice.
Cody Sellar is the reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review West. He is a lifelong Winnipegger. He is a journalist, writer, sleuth, sloth, reader of books and lover of terse biographies. Email him at email@example.com or call him at 204-697-7206.