Sinclair the Warrior
Waterloo women’s basketball coach Eddie Lopez and Jean Vanier’s Isabelle Sinclair. Photo by BILL POTRECZ.
Just one look was all it took to convince Isabelle Sinclair Waterloo was the perfect fit for her.
The 17-year-old Welland native became the latest student from Jean Vanier to advance to play basketball at the Canadian university level when she signed on the dotted line Tuesday to attend the University of Waterloo this fall.
“As soon as I did my tour there, instantly it was where I wanted to go,” the Grade 12 student said, following a gathering at Vanier before a large contingent of friends and family. “I didn’t know if I wanted to go far or stay but as soon as Waterloo became an option for me, it really clicked.
“I just really liked the culture and the coaching staff. They are so nice and the academics are really great there. I was comfortable making my decision.”
Sinclair, who will major in kinesiology, was overwhelmed by the turnout.
“It’s unbelievable. I wasn’t expecting this big of a turnout. I’m so happy everyone was able to come and support me,” she said. “It’s a great way to end off and I’m happy that everything paid off in the end.
“It feels really good to know where I’m going next year and just being able to focus on my studies.”
Sinclair, who won a gold in OFSAA (Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations) with the Lynx in Grade 9 and a silver the next season, is noted as a hard worker and often would show up at school long before anyone else to shoot hoops.
“I say I started really focusing (on playing at the next level) in Grade 7, putting in the extra work in the gym and doing extra workouts,” she said.
That work ethic and Sinclair’s attitude caught the eye of Waterloo coach Eddie Lopez.
“We’re excited to have Isabelle join us, not only for the upcoming season, but for the next five years,” he said. “One of the biggest things we’re looking to bring to Waterloo is that effort, that toughness and that dedication, and those are definitely the traits that we saw in Isabelle.”
Lopez, who coached against Sinclair at the JUEL level, looks beyond how a player performs on the court when recruiting.
“Everyone is looking for talent — everyone needs talent — but those intangibles are really important for us,” he said. “Those are the character pieces I’m trying to bring in.”
The Warriors, who are 3-10 this season, already feature one Niagara player in former St. Francis star Viktoria Cubelic.
Sinclair has high hopes she will see a good amount of playing time next season.
“They said as long as I put the work in and dedicate myself and go to optional practices I’ll merit my playing time,” she said.
Lopez feels Sinclair will be in the mix for significant playing time.
“We’re looking for Isabelle to definitely fight for those top minutes and looking for her to work on her basketball,” he said.
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