HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
You’d be hard pressed to find meaningful basketball today in Canada as players focus on practices instead of games, thanks to the full-court press by COVID-19. But one Ottawa player, Merissah Russell, is in full flight.
Russell, a star product of the Cairine Wilson Secondary School-based Capital Courts Academy, is two games into her freshman year with the No. 5-ranked University of Louisville Cardinals. So far, so good, at least according to the numbers.
After juggling its schedule because some opponents had COVID-19 issues, Louisville won its opening two games by decisive margins. Russell, a guard, played 19 minutes against Southeast Missouri and 15 minutes against Eastern Kentucky.
Russell accounted for eight and four points respectively based on five field goals and two free throws. She also pulled down nine rebounds, passed for two assists and made three steals.
Three years ago, Russell committed to accepting an athletic scholarship to Louisville. In her senior year with the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association’s Capital Courts, she was ranked the 29th best guard by espnW and was a four-star prospect by Prospects Nation.
Russell, 18, helped Canada reach the QF at the 2019 FIBA women’s U19 world championship in Bangkok, and played on the national senior women’s team at 2018 Commonwealth Games. She was the MVP at the 2019 BioSteele All-Canadian girls’ game. She scored 30 points and had 10 rebounds and three steals.
High Achievers news & notes
Seven singles skaters represented Eastern Ontario at the virtual Ontario Sectional figure skating championships Nov. 19-22. Matthew Markell of Prescott FSC topped the East region’s results list, placing second in men’s senior short program and third overall.
In senior women’s singles, Katherine Medland Spence of the Nepean Skating Club was ninth, Emmanuelle Proft of the Gloucester Skating Club placed 11th and Catherine Girard of the Minto Skating Club took 13th.
Hayley McGuire of Gloucester finished eighth in women’s junior singles, while Liam Carney of the Rideau Skating Club and Joshua Dore of Gloucester were ninth and 11th respectively in junior men’s singles.
For the COVID-era Sectionals, skaters submitted videos of their performances at each of their home clubs to be judged, instead of gathering together at one site.
Shilo Rousseau, a University of Ottawa biology student and a Chelsea Nordiq racer, came close to making Canada’s World Cup biathlon team during trials in Canmore, AB. She was fifth in the short individual race and seventh in sprint.
Former Gatineau boxer Harley David O’Reilly has received a 2020 Coaching Education Fellowship from the Coaching Association of Canada and Game Plan. “I’ve always loved coaching and now that I’m a retired athlete, I want to share my knowledge with others,” he said.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for over 47 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.