Lords’ basketball star player on pause, but not halt, during the pandemic

Kendra Oliver, 19, running on the court as she dribbles the basketball with her sister, Sierra Oliver, 20, behind her. Photo credit: Photo Courtesy: Sierra Oliver

Kendra Oliver, 19, is a “once in a lifetime player,” said Heather LaFontaine, Durham Lords woman’s basketball coach.

Oliver has played basketball with her sister, Sierra Oliver, 20, since they were in Grade 5 and Grade 6. A year later, they started playing rep basketball together.

They continued to play together in high school at J. Clarke Richardson and now at Durham College.

At 15-years-old, Oliver said she realized, “Like wow I’m actually good.” Oliver started to get recruitment offers in her Grade 11 year. ­­

OSHAWA ONT. Kendra Oliver, 19, and her sister Sierra Oliver, 20, laughing with each other after they beat the woman’s basketball team at George Brown.
Kendra Oliver, 19, and her sister Sierra Oliver, 20, laughing with each other after they beat the woman’s basketball team at George Brown. Photo credit: Photo Courtesy: Sierra Oliver

As a rookie, LaFontaine said Oliver was a tremendous player from the beginning, but as the season continued, Oliver became more comfortable with the game and she started to become a very crucial player.

Oliver’s first season finished off with a bang.

She was named the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) All-Canadian and achieved five other awards: Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) east division player of the year, east and overall rookie of the year, east first-team all-star and east all-rookie of the year.

Her sister, Sierra, said, “Kendra is so good at basketball… if I give her the ball, she will probably score; she’s super good.”

Before Kendra decided to join the Lords, she had offers to go to the United States, but she said she didn’t like or was not committed to any of the schools.

Oliver said she knew if she came to Durham, she would be the star player.

Oliver added: “I wanted to be the star player.”

Oliver’s sister, Sierra, said, “Having a sister on your team is that you always know that you have someone there for you… someone you can rely on.”

But also, when Oliver is being lazy, her sister Sierra said that she can tell her straight up and she will “step it up” and get back in the game.

“They will banter back and forth with each other but at the end of the day, they are looking out for each other,” LaFontaine said.

“Because we (Sierra and Kendra) have chemistry together we know where we can get the ball and be like productive on the court,” Kendra Oliver said.

With the pandemic stopping all university and college sports, it hasn’t stopped Oliver to become the greatest basketball player on the team.

OSHAWA ONT. Kendra Oliver, 19, does a lay up on the court to try to score a shot for her Durham Lords team.
Kendra Oliver, 19, does a lay up on the court to try to score a shot for her Durham Lords team. Photo credit: Photo Courtesy: Sierra Oliver

“I’m actually really mad about it,” said Oliver about the cancellation of college sports. She was wanting to be CCAA player of the year, by the end of the year.

It’s her dream to play overseas in the future but does not know where yet, Oliver said.

Throughout the pandemic, Oliver said she jogs and started to go to the gyms when they reopened in order to continue to stay physically fit.

Oliver added: “Wearing a mask at the gym is super annoying because I can’t really breath and once my face starts to sweat the mask gets all damp and gross.”

At the gym, Oliver mentioned she mainly focuses on her 3-point shot and ball-handling. She also said she lifts weights to keep up her strength in her arms and legs.

She also watches training videos and NBA highlights on YouTube to learn new skills or continue her basketball training.

LaFontaine said that the woman’s basketball team has been practicing together at the dome in Oshawa.

Everyone wears masks except for when they are sprinting. They are also staying two metres apart.

The team is practicing on grass rather than a court. “I don’t really like it because I’d rather play on the court,” said Oliver.

Oliver’s sister Sierra said she doesn’t like running on the grass either.

Oliver’s sister Sierra added: “We had a driveway with a net before it broke, we used to play there all the time and we go to the gym at Lifetime in Ajax together, we always practice together.”

Reflecting on Kendra Oliver, coach LaFontaine says she’s a great player.

“But then second of all, she’s a great person… she has a positive attitude and she’s great towards her teammates,” said LaFontaine who hopes that in 2021, the DC Lords will have the opportunity to play some exhibition games.

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