There is no stopping Sacre-Coeur’s Emily Tymchuk in sport, school and life.
Whether it’s a basketball game and she is forced to deal with double, triple and quadruple coverage from opposing teams, or helping organize a school event under a tight deadline as student president, or lending a hand to coach elementary kids on the finer points of basketball, Tymchuk takes any challenge head on.
In basketball, Tymchuk was the catalyst for the Griffons senior girls squad this season, and despite being constantly harassed by multiple opposing defenders, led Division I scorers and averaged 17 points-per-game and guided the team to a NOSSA A title and a Top Eight finish at OFSAA.
In school, Tymchuk maintains a 90 average in her classes despite missing a lot of classroom time due to the fact she is out-of-town a lot competing for the school’s sports teams, such as basketball, volleyball, bowling, soccer and track and field, as well as fulfilling her duties as student president and vice-president of the environmental club.
In life, Tymchuk plays a serious act of juggling to perfection as she works a part-time job at Royal Bank Canada, learns new music to play on her guitar, coaches the St-Marie elementary basketball team and still manages to squeeze in time for her family and friends.
From the moment she wakes up early in the morning until she goes to sleep late every day, Tymchuk is going at a blistering pace.
It didn’t use to be this way for Tymchuk. In fact, she nearly quit basketball after her first season, during her Grade 7 year, after finding out the level of play was more intense than she realized.
A few inspirational words from close friend Emily Houle at that time struck a chord in Tymchuk, and have been resonating ever since. Houle died in an October 2009 plane crash with her mother, father and boyfriend. Tymchuk holds herself accountable to those words Houle said to her, and this is why she does as much as she can every day of her life.
“I can honestly say, full heartily, I am where I am today because Emily told me to go after what I wanted and to not give up,” Tymchuk said. “I say a prayer before every game. I am dedicating my career to Emily. She told me to never give up and keep playing and trying. It was the right thing to do. I’m not sure where I would be right now if I didn’t make the decision to keep playing. I use to give up on myself way too easily. Now, I won’t give up on myself.”
Basketball has been the key in Tymchuk’s life. The sport has helped shape her into the person she is today: confident, respectful, humble and blessed with a solid work ethic.
Even when she was growing up and was into figure skating and karate, Tymchuk knew it was only a matter of time before basketball became a central focus in her life. Her father played basketball at Cambrian College and her grandfather played senior professional basketball.
“It was bound to happen, I guess,” Tymchuk said with a laugh. “Basketball is my escape from everything. It gives me the chance to do what I love and have fun. It has strengthened me mentally and physically. When I am playing, I am just a kid and nothing else. It has pushed me in ways I didn’t think were possible.”
When the Griffons play, opponents aggressively attack Tymchuk and she is rarely, if ever, left open on the court. She battles hard to make room, and, at the same time, has made a name for herself. At the OFSAA A championship, Tymchuk poured in 30 points in a 38-28 victory over Hillfield-Strathallan College. The pressure from opponents has helped Tymchuk considerably, and she has come to appreciate that she is the focus of attention from foes.
“At times, it was frustrating and it tested me every game,” she said. “It gave me a better idea of what I needed to do to improve. It also fired me up.
“I’ve always been motivated by doubt,” she added. “If other teams think they will shut me down with two, three or four people, I say ‘No, you will not.’”
Sacre-Coeur basketball coach Justin Brogden has worked with Tymchuk for years. Brogden has watched Tymchuk mature into a presence in sports, school and the community, and tells anyone who will listen if they’re looking for a role model, than look no further than Tymchuk.
“My favourite quality about Emily is she doesn’t let it all get to her head and she doesn’t care if she gets any credit at all for our success,” the coach said. “Her favourite quote is ‘It’s amazing what gets accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.’ She really is a team player and completely unselfish.”
He said her dedication to and passion for the sport is unmatched.
“Her heart has been amazing this year,” Brogden said. “In basketball, she is dominant. Emily has an incredible understanding of the game and an incredible talent — quite possibly the best post footwork of any kid I have ever coached. That combination makes her a very serious threat.”
Tymchuk admitted she spreads herself thin with all the commitments she has made. Her mind races when asked about everything she does from school work to volunteer work. She shrugs her shoulders, unable to give an exact account of everything she does to help others, because she does so much. What she does offer up is a big smile.
“You’ll never see me without my day planner,” the 17-year-old said. “It is booked solid every day. It pains me to say no to something I want to do. I know if I say no, I will regret it. My happiness is in helping others. I love proving to myself I can do anything I want to do.”
Posted by Laurel Myers