Ontario Tech women’s basketball features a pair of local players

Jolesha Allen-Brown is one of two point guards on the Ontario Tech Ridgeback's women's basketball team. Photo credit: Courtney Mcclure

Two local athletes are wearing their hometown Ontario Tech colours as the school’s basketball program plays out its inaugural season.

Jolesha Allen and Christine Yogaretnam play on the women’s basketball team at the university.

Allen attended Whitby’s Henry Street High School and Yogaretnam attended Oshawa Maxwell Heights Secondary School.

Before coming to Ontario Tech, Allen, 19, had the chance to play for Western University, and Wilfrid Laurier University.

The main reason she chose to stay in Oshawa and attend Ontario Tech was because she didn’t want to move away from home. And she wanted to be part of the legacy of the new team at the university.

She said it’s different for Ontario Tech because this is the first year for the team, while opposing schools have fourth and fifth year students playing for them.

“So when I first started coming here, I already knew that we won’t be, like, winning all our games at first, but, like everyday, if you get one per cent better, we’ll start winning and coming closer in our games,” she said.

Allen started playing basketball when she was 12. She is studying Communication and Digital Media Studies at Ontario Tech.

Allen is a self-proclaimed introvert, but basketball made her open up and become more outgoing.

Now she enjoys meeting new people and developed an interest in travelling. Through basketball she has been to Boston, Montreal and Syracuse.

She said she is still working at finding the balance between school and basketball. She tries to get her assignments done early so she can focus on basketball, too. But she says school comes before extracurricular activities.

Although Allen couldn’t remember why she started playing basketball, she did say it helps her clear her head and that’s why she enjoys it. While she’s on the court, she can forget about the stress in her life and focus on the game.

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Christine Yogaretnam plays for the Ontario Tech women's basketball team during one of their games. Photo credit: Courtesy of Ontario Tech Athletics

Yogaretnam, 18, is studying Commerce at Ontario Tech. She says the program has a lot of content, but she chose it because she is considering opening her own business in the future.

She chose to attend Ontario Tech because it is a local university, allowing her to stay home with her family.

Two areas of business interest she has are a new fast food line or creating a clothing brand similar to Nike, where the brand represents every sport, and creates products for various sports.

She started playing basketball because her brother used to playwhen he was younger with his friends and neighbours.

He taught her how to play and she also partially learned from watching NBA games on TV. But admits she only watches the NBA games during the playoffs. Her favourite player is Kyrie Irving, who plays for the Brooklyn Nets.

Yogaretnam plays point guard for the Ridgebacks.

“When I heard that it’s the first year ever in history for Ontario Tech to have a basketball team, I wanted to be a part of that experience and opportunity to make history,” she wrote in an email.

She says she started playing competitive basketball towards the end of Grade 8.

Before joining the university, she played for the Gladiators, a rep team in Whitby.

When she was younger, Yogaretnam played soccer, but grew to prefer basketball.

According to Yogaretnam, she works well with her teammates.

“I’m close with a lot of them,” she said. “It makes it easier.”

The team’s first game of the regular season was against the Laurentian Voyageurs. During the game, Yogartenam described how she felt nervous before the actual game.

“I was very nervous, but after I was on the court, I didn’t feel very nervous,” she said.

The team lacked in some parts, according to her. The team didn’t communicate as well as they should have, and they didn’t box out like they are supposed to do. The Ridgebacks lost 68-48.