Sportsmanship, teamwork, positive attitude and respect for the game are just a few all-star qualities this East Preston native, Justine Colley, has used to capitalize on her passion and excel through it. She has experienced great wins and great losses, but she has managed to, however, shatter records throughout her basketball career. Entering her fifth season with the Saint Mary’s Huskies, and feeling great about her triumphs thus far, she opens up about her journey as a player, what drives her and who has nurtured her in becoming the player she is today.
“As you get more competitive and higher and higher, from my experience at least, everyone has similar athletic ability, similar skill wise but those that are able to take the game and see the minor details are those that succeed.
If you thought becoming a university basketball phenomenon happened over night, well, guess again. Colley found herself at a young age shooting on four-foot nets, which are at a height of two feet, while the other children played in the sandbox. “It’s always something I remembered, always something I enjoyed.” Her sister played, her mother loved the game. Her community, East Preston, supported her through it all, from her club level to junior high to high school, and even now through university.
Head coach of the women’s basketball team, Scott Munro has paid no doubt to her performance on the court “Justine is certainly the best player I have coached at any level, with her ability to impact the game in so many areas. She can score as we know, but her ability to rebound the basketball as well as dictate the tempo much of the game, with her ball pressure combined, with her great anticipation skills. She is on the stat sheet in most categories every night.”
Colley is coming off one of the best seasons in Canadian University Sport (CIS) history, she led the country in scoring for the third consecutive year with an absurd 28.2 points per game, 7.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists. The first team All-Canadian guided the Huskies to a bronze medal at the 2013 CIS Final 8, coming ever so close to a national championship.
“I’ve seen improvement in many areas of her game already this season, in the short time our team has been together. She should be on track for a terrific final season at Saint Mary’s.” There is no objection to Coach Munro, as we’ve seen Colley turn into a university ‘superstar’ over the course of a few years.
Colley boldly states that as of right now the Western conference is probably the best. “Those girls out there are taller more physical and they work really hard. Obviously AUS has tons of talent and skills, but for some reason people tend to forget about the east coast”, she mentions, “hopefully any AUS team that makes it to nationals can make some noise and let the west know we’re still out here. We’re ready to slug it out just like they are.”
“When you’re younger you see the game as just working hard and doing those little details, but working with the senior women’s team I was able to see the game from so many different angles. It was a great experience and I learned so much more about the game” she added.
On the verge of breaking the all-time scoring record for the CIS. Colley shares that she is excited for her team. She claims they can make noise not only in the AUS but also on the CIS level and hope to get the job done this season. “I’m excited to get back to the nationals. We have a great group of girls here, a lot of experienced and new rookies that are coming,” she expresses.
Coming up short against Cuba, a tough opponent who Colley played fairly well within the preliminary round, she still maintains a positive attitude. Despite the loss, the team still made its overall goal, which was to qualify for Turkey 2014. “In my opinion we can’t be sad that we got the silver medal, but we know we can compete with the best in the world and we’re excited to go to Turkey next year.” she comments.
Colley has conquered and worked countless amount of hours to improve herself. She is a skilled guard; you cannot disagree when you see her on the court. Her weakness is her shot, but she continues to build on it. She wishes to be “the ultimate all around player”. She has improved tremendously over the years, but there are definitely tons of areas she is working to improve on still. Nonetheless, the awards she has received are a testament of the work she has put in. Whether she draws fouls, finishes the play herself or looks to find an open teammate, what Colley does best is getting the ball to the net; this is her strength and she plays on it. She steps onto the court and owns every last bit of it.