Make sure that whatever the coach asks you to do, you do it with 110% effort.
University of Toronto
From Walk-on to Conference All-Star
Sherri was born in Toronto but moved to Brampton when she was still very young. Both of her parents played sports; her dad played soccer and her mom played volleyball and net ball. She has an older brother who played basketball and after school he would pick her up and take her to his practices. That is when Sherri fell in love with playing basketball. Her brother taught her how to play. She got into the University of Toronto based on her marks. She had a friend that was recruited to play basketball for U of T. That friend encouraged Sherri to come try out. She did and never looked back.
WillofaChampion: Coming out of high school, why do you think you were not offered a scholarship?
Sherri: I played on a very good travel team with some great guards. I might have been over-looked. But I credit playing against those girls every day in practice for helping me get better.
WillofaChampion: What has been one of your greatest challenges as a walk-on?
Sherri: Figuring out where I fit in. Every time you join a new team you have to figure out what your role is and once you figure it out you have to fulfill it consistently.
WillofaChampion: Have you had to do the “extra” to earn your success: extra time practicing, running, lifting, etc?
Sherri: I wouldn’t call my training extra because that is what is expected of every player. But it definitely contributed to my success. During my first year I felt like a little girl playing with women; our off season training helped put me in a position to be more successful in the following years. But I did spend extra time studying the game. Learning the plays and defenses was challenging at first. To be a good point guard I had to know my position and four other positions as well. Then I could give them direction at times to help us succeed. I also had to be able to read defenses to make the right offensive calls.
WillofaChampion: Do you have to be more mentally tough as a walk-on compared to a scholarship player?
Sherri: You need a pretty high level of confidence in yourself and your abilities. As a walk-on you will probably be nervous due to pressures like meeting the coach and players the first time. You will need confidence to overcome those nerves; because whether or not you can play and contribute is being judged. A scholarship player has the advantage of feeling more comfortable because they are no longer being judged that way. The coach knows they can play and contribute in some way.
WillofaChampion: When you first walked-on, how did your teammates receive you?
Sherri: They were all very nice, welcoming.
WillofaChampion: How did your coaches receive you?
Sherri: I remember Michele saying hello, asking my name and if I wanted to be taped. After the tryout she asked me to come back to the other tryouts.
WillofaChampion: Why do you think you’ve made it when other walk-ons do not?
Sherri:I was athletic and coachable. I showed potential to improve and worked hard. During those tryouts I made sure I stood out. I won every sprint and I never gave up.
WillofaChampion: When you’ve gone through challenging times, who do you talk with to help encourage you?
Sherri: I talk to my brother. He’s been through it all so he really understands and he gives me great advice. He has a way of always knowing the right thing to say to help me keep going. I also became pretty close with my coach. She would watch game film with me to help me see the good, the bad, and the things that just couldn’t be helped.
WillofaChampion: What impact has following your dream and earning it had on your life?
Sherri: It’s made the whole post-secondary experience that much better. I’m no stranger to having to earn what I get but this was very special to me because it allowed me to play the sport I love at a high level. I’ve met a lot of great girls and lifelong friends. I got to compete against some of the best women’s basketball players in Canada. I got to travel and see parts of Canada I’ve never seen. As a result of playing hard and making my mark on this game I was offered an opportunity to help with the provincial team, just to learn the ropes, and I was also asked to help out with the U of T women’s team this coming season.
WillofaChampion: Other athletes reading this article may be considering walking-on, what advice do you have for them?
Sherri: My advice would be to go for it. Remember that you are the underdog so a good first impression will go a long way. Make sure that whatever the coach asks you to do, you do it with 110% effort. In the end if you’ve given it all you’ve got and you didn’t make it; turn that year into your off season. Keep in touch with the coach. Ask him or her what you could have done better, ask for the team’s training program and work hard to improve your game. Come back the next year a better player and the coach will have no choice but to notice you.