KELOWNA, BC — The most recent addition to the 2016-17 UBC Okanagan Heat women’s basketball program is local Immaculata senior Nicole Hart.
The 6’2” forward has played the last three years as a starter with Immaculata. In her last season of high school basketball, Nicole recorded two double-doubles and averaged around 15 points and 8 rebounds a game.
Head coach of the Heat women’s basketball team, Claire Meadows, looks to the impact the Mustang forward will have on her team long term and the immediate future.
“I am thrilled that Nicole has decided to stay home,” says Meadows. “She immediately brings a needed presence in the paint, both offensively and defensively. Nicole brings an impressive basketball resume as she comes from a very successful high school program. I’m excited to have the opportunity to coach her and continue to work on her development over the course of the next 5 years.”
Hart was recognized as a BC Catholics Tournament First Team All Star the last two seasons. In 2016 she was named the top defensive player in the annual Catholic schools tournament, received 2nd Team All Star honours at the ‘AA’ Provincial Tournament, and was ranked in the top 16 for senior girls basketball in BC.
Nicole won her first championship in 2014 when she and her Immaculata team won the ‘A’ Provincial tournament. In 2015 she earned two more gold medals, with Immaculata winning both the BC Catholics Tournament and the ‘AA’ Provincial Tournament. Hart won her fourth championship in 2016 with Immaculata’s second consecutive BC Catholics gold medal win.
Nicole also played on Basketball BC Provincial Teams the past three summers. She earned finishes in 5th place at Nationals, 2nd in Western Canada, and 4th place at Nationals with the U15, U16, and U17 provincial teams respectively.
As to why she chose to stay in Kelowna and play for the Heat, Nicole’s reasons are simple. “I am very excited to be playing at home!” She continued, “I have heard only good things about the professors and knew that UBC Okanagan has all the courses I would like to try.”
Those courses are likely to cover a number of academic bases. “I am hoping to Major in Political Science with a Minor in writing,” said Hart. “I am hoping to work towards my masters in Political Science,” she said of her major. As for the minor in writing, she added, “I have an interest in photography and short story writing.”
In joining the Heat, Nicole will be the third Hart to compete in post-secondary athletics. She has an older brother currently playing basketball at UCSB, and an older sister playing volleyball at New Mexico. “I also played volleyball competitively like my sister,” said Nicole, “and played on the Junior Heat U17 team 2 years ago.”
As to her future with the Heat basketball program, Nicole is optimistic and driven. “One of my strengths is rebounding,” said the incoming Heat forward, “I am hoping to bring that as well as strong defence around the paint. I also hope to contribute to the offence with strong finishes down low.”
That skill and determination should fit right in with a Heat women’s basketball team looking to build on their best season record since joining CIS.
With no players graduating from this year’s squad that set a record in Canada West wins (10) Hart will likely be the final recruit signed to the squad for Claire Meadows second year at the helm. Nicole joins two others from the provincial team in Vernon’s Jordyn Cullum (6-1, forward, Vernon Secondary) and Cloverdale’s Emma Jonas (5-6, PG, Lord Tweesmuir) to round out a stellar recruiting class for coach Meadows.