Reaching high comes naturally for 6’3” Lauren Yearwood.
The Oak Bay High school basketball player attended the junior age group assessment camp in Edmonton March 23 to 30, to which all U17 national team prospects are invited. Last year, Yearwood made it onto the Canada U16 team and competed in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) tournament, winning silver in Cancun, Mexico. This year the international tournament is in Slovakia.
“Basketball has given me amazing experiences,” she says. “Cancun is the furthest I’ve travelled for basketball (and) I’ve met most of my friends through basketball. I just love to compete and with basketball, I have been able to compete at a high level.”
Yearwood was invited to try out for the U16 team in 2012, but was sidelined after breaking an ankle while playing in provincials just weeks before national tryouts. The 16-year-old has been playing basketball since she was five and is at the stage where everything comes naturally – but that wasn’t always the case.
“When I was young, I grew so fast, I was pretty uncoordinated,” Yearwood says. “In Grade six, I was 5’11.”
She was enrolled in dance with her older sister, learning tap, jazz and ballet. She credits 12 years of dance lessons in helping her hone her coordination and improve her hand and footwork, making her the player she is today. Growing up, Yearwood has always been physically active, dabbling in other sports such as swimming, gymnastics and volleyball. She also participated in triathlons when she was in Grades 1, 2 and 3.
The teen does a lot of commuting, either to the Lower Mainland to compete in tournaments or from her Thetis Lake home to Oak Bay every day, taking up to 45 minutes by car. She attends Oak Bay High because of the basketball program’s reputation.
“(Coach Greg) Kinnear was a big reason why I transferred to Oak Bay. He has been very eager and supportive in getting me to where I want to be,” Yearwood says. “I also played a lot of basketball with (girls from Oak Bay) while growing up, so I transferred there.”
The week-long assessment camp in Edmonton includes a number of drills and tests. There is one more assessment camp in March, which is when Canada Basketball will decide who is invited to tryouts for the national team in June. The FIBA tournament runs from June 28 to July 6.
“You have to pack as though you are going (to Slovakia), but you can be sent home instead,” Yearwood says.
The young athlete is leaning towards the sciences academically and looking to move out of Canada for post secondary education.
“I’m hoping to play university basketball in the states,” she said. “I’ve always had this dream to play NCAA basketball since I was a child.”