The boys’ team laid down the groundwork, and now, it’s the girls turn to shine.
After a successful inaugural season in 2018-19, the Edge School in Springbank is expanding its basketball program to include a varsity girls’ team in the upcoming school year.
“We’re happy to have the women sign and get it going,” said Program Director Eddie Richardson III. “They’re an integral part of what we’re putting together, so it’s an exciting time, for sure.”
While the girls’ team won’t join a Canada-based league right away, Richardson said, the Edge will still face plenty of stiff competition at a host of showcase tournaments throughout the United States and Western Canada.
In the future, he said, the National Preparatory Association (NPA) – the league the boys’ team currently plays in – plans to start a women's division. The team also has the option of joining the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association.
“We’re making sure we take our time in picking the right competition path for our girls,” Richardson said. “We want to make sure that, wherever we join, it will be a consistent schedule.”
The Edge’s boys’ team was immediately competitive in its first season in the NPA – an elite prep basketball league for private high-school teams in Canada. The Mountaineers finished as the top team in the Western Conference and made it all the way to the 2019 NPA championship game, where its Cinderella run ended with a loss to Crestwood Preparatory College.
“We’re super excited to build the culture of basketball here in Western Canada and Calgary, and give the girls those same opportunities to be a part of a high-performance group,” Richardson said.
Former university-level player Elyse Hnatiuk will be the team's head coach. Most recently, she held an assistant coaching position with the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns in 2018-19, during which the team qualified for its first Canada West semi-final since 1995.
As a player, Hnatiuk lined up as a forward for three different post-secondary basketball teams from 2006 to 2010, including the University of Calgary Dinos, the Mount Royal College Cougars and the St. Francis Xavier X-Women, of Antigonish, N.S.
“I’ve coached and played at that level, and it’s pretty neat to give back now,” she said. “I’m just super excited to move back to Calgary and grow the basketball community there. It’s one that gave me so much, in terms of my athletic and academic career, and it’s super exciting to have the opportunity to go back.”
According to Hnatiuk, the team is currently still in the recruitment stage. She said most of the new squad’s players will be from Alberta, but a handful could come from other provinces.
One highly-touted signee Richardson was eager to highlight is Calgarian Yvonne Ejim – a Gonzaga University commit and a member of Canada’s national U17 team.
“We’re super excited to have players of that level to start off our program, and give her the advantage of providing a high-performance training outlet here,” he said.
Hnatiuk said she is excited by the recruitment possibilities and the level of competition a prep girls’ team will provide talented high-school players.
“The coolest part is they get a university experience at the high-school level,” she said. “By the time they get to that post-secondary level, they’ll already have the skills, the academics, and they’ll have progressed a lot on the basketball side of things, too.
“I’m excited to see where it takes the girls and the doors it opens for them.”