SHELBURNE, N.S. – Shelburne’s Vanessa Hartley is ready to hit the court running after making the Saint Mary’s University (SMU) women’s basketball team.
Hartley, 18, knew she wanted to continue her basketball career at the university level before she graduated from Shelburne Regional High School earlier this year. Taking the initiative, she contacted head coach Scott Munro by email to introduce herself and let him know her love of the game and desire to play university ball.
“He told me if I wanted an opportunity to make the team to try out when I got here,” she says.
She did and is now on the Huskies’ roster as guard.
“It was pretty amazing to make the team,” Hartley says. “It’s an amazing feeling to know that I have the ability to play for them.”
Making the team was a first step, she says.
“A goal of mine is more playing time but for that to happen I’ve got to get better. I’m taking my potential and actually making it talent,” she says, adding she is taking full advantage of the resources and opportunities available to varsity athletes at SMU to help improve their game.
Hartley has been playing basketball since Grade 7 and “probably longer,” she says, noting both her mom Jennifer Doane and dad Richard Hartley played basketball. Besides her high school career, which earned her two trips to NSSAF provincial championships, two Phil Callan Memorial MVP awards as well as other accolades. Hartley also played on a provincial basketball team when she was 15 for Basketball Nova Scotia. And she was also competitive in other high school sports including soccer, rugby and track and field.
Hartley is studying criminology at SMU.
“The first year is basic courses. We haven’t gotten into the program yet but will next year,” she says. “I want to take summer classes up here in Halifax so I want to play some club teams just to keep active.”
Except for one pre-season game, Hartley has been sidelined by illness so far this season, but hopes to be back in the game in the new year.
When asked if she had any advice for high school athletes aspiring to pursue a university career in sport, she says don’t sell yourself short.
“Coming from a small town you don’t have an opportunity unless you make it for yourself. Don’t be afraid to go online and find the coaches’ email and contact them,” she says. “Let them know you love the game and want to keep playing. Nobody else is going to do it for you. You have to want it or you’re not going to be successful in your sport.”