A new year is just around the corner, but it's going to take a lot to beat 2011 for Elle Kerfoot.
The Elgin Park grad is wrapping up an amazing 12 months of ups and downs that included the high of playing for her country in international competition and the low of the uncertainly that comes with a serious illness.
"It's been a good year for sure," she said. "I got to live my dream of playing for Canada and I loved it. It was an amazing experience and now I want to do it again. If anything, I'm hungrier now than I was before."
Kerfoot helped lead Elgin Park to the B.C. senior girls' AAA basketball title in 2008, her final season of high school hoops. She then took her basketball skills down I-5 with a scholarship to play for the Seattle University Redhawks. In her junior campaign last year, the blond point guard was one of Seattle's offensive leaders, averaging 13.7 points and 3.8 assists per game. She was named a team captain, started every game and scored in double digits for the final 14 games of the season.
As good as those numbers were, Kerfoot was left wondering where she stood in terms of Canada's national hoops program. After hearing nothing from the national body, Kerfoot learned there would be open try-outs for the Canadian team that was being assembled for the 2011 University Games in China. Determined to make a good impression, Kerfoot rushed back from Seattle for a shot at proving she belongs among the ranks of Canada's up and coming talents.
"When I saw there were open try-outs, I went into them pretty confident and excited to have the opportunity," she said. "I knew I had a chance if I played well and played hard and things worked out well for me.
Coming from an American college, it seemed harder for me because I basically had two days to prove myself. The open try-out lasted just four hours so that's all I had to make a good impression against other players the coaches already knew. It was really challenging for sure."
Kerfoot obviously caught the eyes of the coaches because she earned one of 16 invitations to the national team training camp. When final cuts were made, she was among the survivors preparing to travel to China to represent her country at the University games.
"I was so excited when I found out I made the team," she said. "I mean, I knew I could make it but when it became official, I just thought, 'Wow, this is really happening.' I was shocked because it has always been a goal for me to play for Canada. I was so frustrated throughout the try-outs just not knowing what the coaches were thinking but it was definitely rewarding at the end."
In China, the young Canadians warmed up with exhibition games against Great Britain and Japan before competition began for real. The Canadians lost to Russia and Australia in pool play and beat Finland and Poland. Their tournament ended with a second loss to the Russians.
"It's a different game and we really didn't have much time to adjust to it," Kerfoot said of international basketball. "Some of the players on the team had played internationally before so they knew what to expect but for the most part, we were a pretty young team. I was surprised by how physical it is and the girls on the other teams are just huge. The coaches did their best to prepare us for that and to be honest, I actually like it."
Kerfoot was fired up when she returned to North America, but things quickly went off the rails when she became seriously ill with a virus she suspects she picked up in China.
"It really sucked because I was playing the best basketball of my life and then I lost 25 pounds in two weeks," she said. "I was really sick and when I came back, the coaches here in Seattle were really good and let me work my way back slowly. Even when games started, I still wasn't 100 per cent and it messed with my head. It took a while but now I'm playing better."
With her game rounding back into form, Kerfoot is excited about what the future holds. The Redhawks have a strong team and once her senior season is over, she knows there may be more hoops in her future.
Last year at this time she was unsure about her chances with the national team but not anymore.
"That's good to know because I play all of my games on the other side of the border and you don't know who's following you," she said. "That's how I felt after last season. I had a pretty good year and I never heard anything from the national team. Now I know the coaches and they know me, and that can only be positive."