Correction: A previous version of this article stated USports athlete Sabine Dukate was also joining the PEI Panthers, which was one of the reasons for Foster's interest in the program. Dukate is not, in fact, joining the team. We apologize for this error.
Airdrie athlete Julia Foster is heading to the University of Prince Edward Island this fall to play basketball for the Panthers, while pursuing a degree in kinesiology.
The six-foot-two forward committed to the USports team back in November 2020 and has been looking forward to the move east ever since.
“It was kind of emotional because I’d worked for it for four years,” Foster said. “I didn’t feel like I was really playing that well during those games before I got the offer. So, it just felt really rewarding because I had got exactly where I wanted to be.
“I didn’t have to settle [and go to a school] that I didn’t want.”
Foster recently graduated from the Edge School for Athletes in Springbank, where she spent her senior year. Prior to joining the female prep team at Edge School, Foster plied her trade with the George McDougall Mustangs, her local club team SC Elite and Genesis Basketball in Calgary.
She added she is looking forward to being around a new set of teammates who are at or above her skill level, which she said will bring “a new level of intensity” to her game.
Foster’s new team, the UPEI Panthers, had quite the run in the 2020-2021 season, finishing first in the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) conference’s regular season with a 17-3 record. After a successful regular season, the Panthers beat the Laval Rouge et Or 57-50 to bring home the bronze medal at the USports women’s national championships. The podium finish marked the program’s second ever medal, following a silver-medal performance in 1989.
The Panthers were also awarded CBC Team of the Year by Sport P.E.I.
Matt Gamblin, the team's head coach, said he was initially impressed by Foster's work ethic.
“We see her as somebody who will be able to adapt [to a championship environment] and grow over four or five years,” he said.
The 18-year-old athlete said she is grateful for her coaches and the work they have put in over the years to help build her game to her current level.
“Eddie Richardson III, my coach [at Genesis] has really helped me in my development and getting me to where I want to be,” she said.
Foster said that Richardson III, who is also the director of basketball at Edge School, encouraged her to attend the sports school for her last year of high school – something she said helped immensely with her university recruitment after COVID-19 botched her Grade 11 season.
She also credited her skills coach Bob Willett for her improved ball-handling and footwork.
Gamblin also said Foster came “highly recommended” from her coaches and he was impressed with her toughness and willingness to learn.
Foster said that her favourite part of basketball is having the ability to do exactly what you want with the ball when you have it in your hands.
“I’ll always have to be trying hard to keep up and to get better,” Foster said, “I’m excited for how intense [university athletics] will be.”
In the future, Foster said she hopes to spend time in Europe playing pro ball before pursuing a career as a personal trainer.