Categorized | Sports

Sheridan George signs with Rattlers hoop team

Sheridan George will take her  basketball skills to the next level.

The 18-year-old F.P. Walshe school graduate signed with the Medicine Hat College Rattlers of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Association.

“I’ve always loved basketball and I’m super excited to get to improve my skills and play college level ball,” George said.

George received the Danny Paskal Memorial Award in 2020 as the outstanding female athlete at F.P. Walshe school.

The five foot 11 forward was named to the Chinook Basketball League all-star team in her Grade 12 year. She was named most outstanding player by the Flyers in Grade 11 and Grade 12.

A multi sport athlete while at F.P. Walshe, George was named to the Westwinds Volleyball League all-star team in both her Grade 11 and Grade 12 years. She was named most outstanding player in Grade 12.

“Basketball really became my main focus when I played my first year of senior ball in Grade 10,” George said. “I remember (coach Randy) Bohnet pulled me aside at practice and told me that I had the potential to go somewhere in basketball. You could have millions of people tell you the same thing but when a coach tells you that for the first time it really makes an impact.”

George enjoyed playing volleyball, rugby and other sports in high school but basketball was always on her mind.

Sheridan George of Fort Macleod has signed to play basketball with the Medicine Hat Rattlers of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Association.

“It was the only sport I wanted to spend hours thinking about, playing and just doing anything I could to improve my game. There was just something different about the way I felt when I played.”

George struggled with confidence on the court and it wasn’t until her Grade 11 season that George made playing college or university level basketball a goal. To improve her chances, she tried out for and made the Junior Pronghorns team in Lethbridge.

“It really helped me see the difference between a small town league and some of the best high school players. We played teams from Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon and some from the States as well. I knew that if I wanted a shot at playing at a higher level I needed to improve my game quite a bit.”

George credited Bohnet with giving her the push she needed to raise her game and set the goal of playing after high school.

Aimee Sandham, who was the Flyers head coach in Sheridan’s Grade 12 year, was also influential.

“I have spent countless hours with Aimee in the gym, working on shooting, and things that I couldn’t improve on in a regular practice,” George said, adding Sandham pushed her to reach out to college coaches. “She had such an incredible impact on who I am as a basketball player as well as a person.”

There was also plenty of support for a young basketball player at home.

“There are so many people who have helped develop me into the player I am today, but the most important would be my mom. She was always my biggest fan and pushed me to be my best.”

The COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the 2020-’21 ACAC season, and presented challenges for prospective players to connect with teams.

George followed Sandham’s advice and sent e-mails to some college coaches and was pleased to hear from Medicine Hat.

She sent game film to the Rattlers coach, who reached out to out some of George’s coaches, held a meeting on the Zoom platform with the player and her mother and offered Sheridan the chance to sign with the Rattlers.

“I am extremely excited to have signed with a college team. When I first started sending e-mails I didn’t expect for this to happen, especially this year with everything going on.”

The Rattlers have a strong team that was expected to compete for a national title before the pandemic ended the season. Medicine Hat expects to be a contender in the 2021-’22 season.

“As a first-year player I can’t really expect to get a lot of playing time but I also know that if I prove I’m worthy of more, it’ll be given to me,” George said of her expectations for her rookie year.

George is hopeful her athleticism and versatility prove to be advantages at the college level. Although she usually plays in the post, she can handle any position on the court.

“My goal for my first year is just to work hard, learn from the older players and improve my game.”

Medicine Hat and other college teams can’t predict the future, but are optimistic there will be a full season in 2021-’22. The team was only able to practice together at times this past year.

George is enrolled in general studies this fall, which she hopes will help her decide on a career path.

Until she travelled to Medicine Hat earlier this month for an in-person workout with the coaches, George had not been on a basketball court since the pandemic was declared in Alberta.

“That has made it super hard for me to improve at all. Luckily, the Rattlers coach was super understanding as he knows how difficult it’s been. He said this year he was really just looking for girls who work hard and are willing to put in the effort to improve.”

Two areas of focus for improvement in George’s mind are leadership and her work ethic.

“The difference and speed in games between high school and college ball is huge and I know that if I want to get time on the court I’m going to have to work very hard for it.”

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