By Michael Sun
Former national championship-winning Carleton Ravens Catherine Traer and Tommy Scrubb were married on Aug. 3 but put their honeymoon on hold for each of their pursuits with Canada Basketball this summer.
For Scrubb, there was virtually no wait, as he joined the training camp of the World Cup men’s team the very next day.
Later in the month, Traer was winning tournaments for Canada at the International Basketball Federation’s (FIBA) first-ever women’s dedicated 3X3 circuit, which she capped off with a win the series’ final event in Edmonton in September.
As Traer explains, with her and her husband both being high-level basketball players, they have an understanding and support for each other’s time and the sacrifices in their respective careers.
“There was never any question in my mind whether that was okay or not that we wouldn’t have a honeymoon,” Traer said. “I knew going in, the World Cup was his big dream. That was his objective and I was completely and 100 per cent going to support him.”
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Traer, who is originally from Chelsea, Que. and played for the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees before making the rare cross-city move to Carleton, where she helped the school win its first national championship in women’s basketball, and Scrubb, who won five national championships with the Ravens in his five years with the team, met at a bar in downtown Ottawa in 2013. It was Traer’s second year at uOttawa and Scrubb’s fourth at Carleton.
“He’s a really quiet guy. He doesn’t talk much and I tend to talk for two,” Traer said. “We just really complete each other that way. He was always such a nice guy from the start…it just clicked right away.”
Scrubb describes himself as “not the most outgoing” and focused on his goals. He noted he was more shy as a kid but that as he got older, people helped him come out of his shell and become more confident in who he was.
Both Traer and Scrubb noted that their long-distance relationship in the past – Traer was at Carleton while Scrubb was playing pro in Europe – presented its challenges. Now, they’re living together in France as Scrubb begins his professional season with his new club SIG Strasbourg of the French professional league.
Traer was forced into semi-retirement after her Carleton career ended in 2018 and she lacked substantial professional offers.
“Nothing came up and it was a hard reality check for me,” she said.
Traer said she felt an internal void because of the absence of playing high-level competitive basketball, but she felt she had more to give in the sport, so she continued to work out and stay in playing shape.
When she noticed Canadian national team members Michelle and Katherine Plouffe were forming a self-funded 3X3 team, Traer mustered up the confidence to ask team member Paige Crozon – who she had played with at the Commonwealth Games – if they were looking for anyone to join. When an injury provided an opportunity, Traer left for France for her first tournament.
“It was a rude awakening,” Traer said, as she was still adjusting to the 3X3 game. She learned to adapt to the pace and physicality of it when embracing her role as a defensive stopper. “It’s been a summer of adjustments,” she noted.
Both Traer and Scrubb said it was amazing to see all the friends and family out for their wedding. There had been months of planning to up the big moment. “I was a bit nervous but also excited it was finally going to happen,” Scrubb said.
“Just to see everybody so happy and showing me and Catherine so much support and so much love, that was really a great feeling,” he added.
When Scrubb left just after their wedding to try and crack Canada’s roster for the World Cup, he said he wasn’t optimistic at first because of how many NBA players were trying out for the team. He grew more confident about making the team as the summer went on, he said.
“I thought that I had put enough time in and had been to pretty much every qualifying window so I think I deserved to be there,” Scrubb said.
Scrubb said while Canada didn’t do as well as they should have (they placed 21 out of 32 teams), it was a great experience to play against some of the best players in the world and travel to new places while doing it. He’s moved onto his fifth European club in five seasons this year and is continuing to further his skills and his career.
“I just got comfortable moving around to different teams wherever I need to be and being able to have success in that place,” he said.
A goal of Scrubb’s is to find more club stability and play in the Euroleague (the top European basketball league) in the future. Traer’s sights are set on going to the Olympics – a childhood goal. However, she had never expected that if she did, it would be in the 3X3 version of the game, which will be played at the Tokyo Games for the first time. While living with Scrubb in France, Traer plans to continue to look for pro opportunities in five-on-five basketball.
After a busy summer, Traer and Scrubb could be in for another one in 2020 – especially if they both make the Olympics. They’ve also been planning to finally take their honeymoon that summer, hopefully to Hawaii, but it might have to be put on hold if either of them succeeds in going to the Games.