Chapter 4: Student-Athlete

 

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The unending challenge Student Athletes face in staying committed to Academics and Athletics was soemthing Hary had to face. Starting up his first semester in the winter of January 2010, the most occupying semester for any basketball player competing in the CIS  (Canadian Interuniversity Sports) level. “We played two to three games a week or rather, sum it up, three to five games in two weeks. I had to study, work and practice. That was tough!” This was a schedule Harry had to adjust to as he just arrived Canada from Nigeria 2months earlier. Right now, there were no excuses. He knew how far he had come and was not going to throw away the academic opportunity which basketball has provided. Adversities faced him in various ways but Harry was able to persevere and maintain focus regardless of constraints. “There were very tough moments; my sister Nancy passed away on the 8th of March, 2012. I had to deal with that while focusing on other things, but I had the right focus and support system in my family and friends to move on.”

 

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Harry Ezenibe receiving The National Prestigious Ken Shields Award from the Legend, Ken Shield.

 

Harry committed to his priorities; competing in varsity athletics, working to pay his bills, going to classes, contributing to the community and studying late nights at the university’s library. These were a must as he had to carter for himself while away from his entire family in Nigeria. These excludes other barriers any international student-athlete would face while adjusting to a new culture other than theirs; adjusting to the Canadian culture, learning what are prescriptive and proscriptive, and embracing his new home in Halifax. “My routine was crazy, but it shaped who I am today. I was all I had to succeed. it taught me how to organize, prioritize and manage my time.” Adding to his hardwork, resilency and dedication, Harry became a three-time Canadian Interuniversity Sports Academic All Canadian, his endless commitment to academics, athletics, youth empowerment and community development made him a two-time Community Service Awards winner in all Atlantic Universities combined. He later moved on to be the first ever Saint Mary’s University athlete to win the prestigious Ken Shields Award in 2014, a national award that recognizes excellence in athletics, academics and community service. Adding to this recognition, he earned the province of Nova Scotia’s Criminal Justice Association Student Award for contributing in promoting a humane, equitable, and effective criminal justice system through community involvement. These are a few of Harry’s accolades (See: Awards section).
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Harry had his success as an athlete; he was Saint Mary’s University Most Valuable Player in his 3rd season. Standing at 6’3inch, he was top 5 in Field Goal percentage and Block Shots. He averaged 11.5 rebound, conference best,  and 2nd in the nation in 2013. He was one of 3 players to average a double double (over 10points and 10rebounds) in all of Canadian universities during the 2012/2013 season. Harry propelled the Huskies to winning a conference championship where he earned the most valuable player during the 2014 playoffs as the Huskies booked a trip to the national stage since 2008. At the national stage, the Huskies fell shot 0-2. Harry had to play his last game as a Husky on March 8th, the same day his sister passed away. “It was really an emotional day but I decided to make it the last day I played competitive basketball. I’ve come this far. Nancy always wanted me to play and I’m glad I did this for her, and about to earn my degree afterwards” After the basketball season was over, Harry completed his degree with a double major in Sociology and Criminology with a Concentration in Coop Education.

Harry always had the right support system in his family. “My family inspires me, the good and tough times fuelled my success as a student-athlete. Dad and Mum raised me to value the community and people around me. They did great raising me and are proud of whom I have become in their absence.”

Harry was able to bring his parents over to Canada to spend sometime with him and witness his Convocation and annual HarryCares tournament in the Fall of 2014. His accomplishment as a student athlete paved numerous ways for Harry, and he has moved on to pursue a career in the National Basketball Association, and is currently working with the Front Office of the Toronto Raptors Basketball Club | Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

 

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