KELOWNA, BC - The phrase 'sister act' is taking on a new meaning for athletes with UBC Okanagan's Heat women's basketball team.
Kate Johnson, younger sister to current Heat basketball players Emma and Olivia, has signed on to join the program starting next fall.
That existing connection to the team will be, according to the youngest of four Johnson sisters, a significant help in her upcoming career at UBC Okanagan.
"I think that by already knowing the players and having siblings on the team is a massive advantage," says the soon-to-be Heat point guard. "It eliminates the fear of being on a team with people I don't know. I am already comfortable in that environment and have played with various members of the team on multiple occasions. Having my sisters on the team will push me to be better every day because we are so competitive."
Johnson is currently enjoying an extremely successful athletic career at Immaculata Regional High School in Kelowna, and has already won seven provincial titles and five Catholic schools provincial titles in basketball, soccer, and volleyball. She has medalled at one provincial and three Catholic championships ."
In her Grade 11 season on Immaculata's basketball team, her second with the senior team and first as a starter, Johnson was named the MVP of the 2016 Mustang Classic, a Second Team All-Star and Player of the Game at the BC AA provincial tournament.
"I have played for the regional team twice," Johnson adds, "both years finishing third at the end of the season tournament."
This past summer Johnson played on the U17 Basketball BC provincial team, finishing sixth at the national championship.
Academically, Johnson is also following in sister Oliva's footsteps.
"I am planning on entering the management program for my first year and will see where it takes me," she says. "This program is very group oriented which is similar to playing on a team." Sister Emma is currently in UBC Okanagan's School of Nursing program.
"I am thrilled to announce the signing of Kate Johnson," says head coach Claire Meadows. "Kate is a true ambassador of the game and will have an immediate impact with our program. She is one of the most explosive and quick athletes in the open court and possesses a good understanding of the game. She will bring a great work ethic and a competitive edge. I look forward to coaching Kate and having her represent our program."
As to why she chose UBC Okanagan, Johnson says her time with the Junior Heat Club program has been key in that decision.
"Playing Junior Heat really gave me a snapshot of what the environment was like at the university. Being coached by some of the players and the support of the coaches showed me how supportive everyone is and that the coaches really want to see you succeed."
With established relationships on the team, and her experience with the Junior Heat, Johnson will undoubtedly fit in quickly. As to what she hopes to gain from her upcoming rookie season, the 5'7" point guard is eager to establish a reciprocal relationship of growth.
"I look forward to learning from my future teammates and coach Claire Meadows and am excited for the opportunity to improve my game," she says. "I am hoping to gain confidence as a player at the university level and learn the Heat system. I am also looking forward to earning some meaningful minutes and being an impact player on the team."
As to what she will bring to the Heat, the third Johnson sister to become a member of the Heat basketball squad does not shy away from recognizing her abilities including good passing skills, a clear vision of the court, setting up teammates, and defensive speed and tenacity that will be welcome. And yes, there is bound to be some sibling rivalry.
"If I were to play one-on-one with my sisters, I am not who would win," she says. "We have different talents and Olivia and Emma are both very strong defenders. Though I like to think my ball-handling could get by them once or twice."
Johnson is the first female basketball recruit signed for the 2017/18 season.