Shelburne’s Mackenzie Smith was on the roster for the inaugural national BioSteel All Canadian Girls Basketball Game on March 31 at the University of Toronto’s Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport.
The team featured “24 of the top Canadian female high school basketball stars,” chosen by an eight-person selection committee of Canadian basketball stakeholders from across the country, including provincial and territorial representatives, clubs and coaches.
Being named to the All-Canadian team is “quite an honour” and “not an easy feat,” said Marc Ffrench, head coach of the King’s-Edgehill Girls prep basketball team.
Smith joined the King’s-Edgehill team this season, transferring from Shelburne Regional High School to attend the private school in Windsor.
“It’s giving me amazing opportunities all-around, academically and athletically,” said Smith. “My dream has always been, ever since I was little, to play Division 1 basketball in the States. Within the seven months I’ve played with the (King’s-Edgehill) program, I’ve been given multiple opportunities to go to a couple places in the States and anywhere I like in Canada. We go to Maine, New Hampshire, all those places, and we play Ontario a lot. It’s actually been amazing.”
Smith, who has been sidelined with a knee injury since January, was unable to play in the BioSteel All Canadian Girls game but did attend.
“It was awesome to see all the girls from all over. It was actually amazing,” she said.
Smith is now recovering from knee surgery and will be working on rehabilitation over the summer so she can get back in the game. Smith, who is in Grade 11, plans to return to King’s-Edgehill next year to finish her high school basketball career. She plans to stick with the sport.
The King’- Edgehill girls prep team plays in the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) league.
“Their athletic programs are unmatched,” said Ffrench. “Top-notch kids are recruited to go to these schools. They are always putting kids into the NCAA.”
Ffrench said the girls prep basketball is a university-style program for high school-aged kids.
“We coach and teach at a university level. Concepts and expectations are at the same as a university level. Whether it’s terminology, strategy, concepts, it drives the actual players to be much, much better.”
Players’ obligations are much more than a daily practice. Weight-room workouts and weekly film sessions are also on the agenda. “There are a lot of obligations to meet,” said Ffrench, who said competition is at a much higher level than the NSSAF.
“We’re very, very happy with the program and the kids we recruited to be in it, especially Mackenzie and a couple of others. They are like the poster child for why we built this. Where Mackenzie was a wonderful athlete in her hometown, Mackenzie found once she got on the national stage and international stage what it takes to become really good.”
Ffrench referred to Smith as “a big part of our team who has really blossomed playing at a much higher level.”
“It’s really helped her blossom into a really, really good young player. If she puts in the time and work, I think she is going to enjoy a really good career going forward, and not just at university. I think there are some other things that are there for her, past university or outside university.”
Ffrench said the whole premise of the program is to present the girls with the opportunity to be seen, noting there is regular scouting and recruiting from NCAA schools in the U.S. and youth sports schools in Canada.
“We want to make sure the girls get their opportunities,” he said, “and it has paid in spades.”