Big Dreams On and Off the Court

Raphaela is a Jumpstart kid who started playing basketball in Grade 6. She fell in love with the game from a young age, captivated by the energy, competition, and feeling of being part of a team.

By Grade 10, Raphaela was playing at an elite level, and was invited to try out for the Academy for Student Athlete Development (ASAD) based out of the Abilities Centre in Whitby, Ontario. The ASAD helps student athletes strive for success through their high performance athletic training and academic preparation. Programs for future high performance athletes frequently come with a significant price tag. With Jumpstart’s support, kids who have the skills on the court and in the classroom, but face financial barriers, are subsidized and have the same chance to develop as their peers.

Raphaela’s ASAD try-out was a success, and she was asked to join the program. She made the difficult decision to move away from her family and hometown of Kingston, Ontario, to follow her dreams.

Since enrolling in ASAD, Raphaela has not only improved her basketball game, she has learned important life skills. “Basketball has taught me to work hard and be patient,” said Raphaela, “I am learning that you don’t have to do things perfectly the first time.”

Now a team captain, she works hard to maintain a balance between academics and sport. In the classroom, she excels at and enjoys math, a subject area in which she now helps her younger teammates.

Raphaela also volunteers with Thrive, an Abilities Centre program that helps adults with disabilities participate in a variety of meaningful activities.

Recently, Raphaela became one of only 13 Canadian girls selected to play on Olympian Kia Nurse’s elite U17 basketball team that will compete internationally in 2019.

With big dreams including attending Penn State,Duke, or an Ivy League University on an NCAA basketball scholarship and becoming a lawyer, it’s apparent that basketball has inspired confidence and leadership skills in Raphaela and provided her with a world full of possibilities to pursue her dreams.

For more than a decade, Jumpstart has supported kids like Raphaela by helping cover the costs of sport and recreation, including registration, equipment, and transportation. By funding programs like ASAD, Jumpstart helps kids succeed on and off the court, and ultimately, reach their full potential.