Tayania Siwek-Smith is off to a great start to her Laurier basketball career in only her rookie season.
After just nine games, she has put up some great numbers that see her in the top five of five stat categories at Laurier.
For Siwek-Smith, her story began in grade eight, when a friend of hers recommended she give basketball a shot because of her height.
“Somebody said that I was really tall and that I should play basketball,” she said, honestly.
I just tried out for the school team and I was pretty bad [at first]. But after practicing for so many years, I was able to get a lot better.”
In terms of progressing into the caliber of player that she is today, Siwek-Smith credited her coaches at the rep level.
“When I started playing for my Oakville team, my coach was really good at [working with us] to become better players. He would have one-on-one practices with us and refer us to summer teams that would travel to the States. It’s a different level of competition [in the United States] so I was able to improve as a player,” she said.
Then Siwek-Smith chose to further her career at Laurier. But, she had to admit that she did tour around quite a bit before ultimately ending up in the purple and gold.
“At first I thought I was going to go to the States,” she said. “Then I toured a couple schools there and [found] that I didn’t think they put enough emphasis on academics. So, when I took a tour of Laurier and the coaches were talking about how important academics are to student athletes, [that] was something that I really liked. I think that school is really important and that’s why I ended up choosing Laurier.”
The OUA level of play was a new challenge this year for Siwek-Smith. However, she seems to have handled the new challenge well so far, having overcome some of the hardships of joining a new team.
“At the beginning, it was a little hard to get used to playing with all these different players, because they play differently from the players I’ve played with in the past. But partway through the season, I think that everyone started playing really well together and we’re continuously improving as a team,” she said.
As for her own performance, Siwek-Smith believes she’s made great improvements to her game in the few months she’s been at the Laurier program.
“I feel like practicing every single day has really improved my game. Through all the practices and the higher level of competition, I’ve been able to improve my defence,” she said.
“I also want to start averaging closer to eight points-per-game, that way I have a base as I get older and improve.”
The journey seems to have just begun for this budding star. Siwek-Smith and the rest of the Golden Hawks are looking to take their game to higher levels in 2017.