4th Year Point Guard Still Learning About Basketball and Life
Jeri Brainard brings a lot of experience and maturity to the Briercrest Clipper women’s basketball team as a fourth-year veteran. The hard-working point guard grew up in Hythe, AB, where she was raised as the middle child, with two brothers and two sisters. She is now married to her husband Sam, whom she met at Briercrest.
Brainard had a very unique experience before coming to Briercrest. She attended Marii Magdaleny High School in Poland as part of a Rotary Youth Exchange for Grade 13, after graduating from Beaverlodge High School, in Alberta. This was both a trying and rewarding experience for her.
“Not only could I not understand anything, it was quite difficult to be away from everyone I ever knew and loved”, said Brainard. “However, that year taught me to rely on God’s strength and not my own. I was able to play both volleyball and basketball that year, which God used to encourage and uplift my spirit when I was feeling low.”
She ended up being a starting point guard on her team, despite not being able to speak the language, and helped her team place second in their division.
<strong>Good old-fashioned hard work</strong>
A stand-out all through high school, Brainard was chosen as the Female Athlete of the Year for her Grade eight and nine years, and then was selected as a provincial all-star, to play on the Northern Alberta Shooting Stars team, for the all-star game in Grade 12.
Since coming to Briercrest, Brainard has had to work hard to earn playing time. She took advantage of every opportunity she got in her rookie season, even though she was not a starter. She earned player of the game three times and ended up being honored as the team’s Most Improved Player. Since then, she has continued to bring maximum effort to every practice and game, which has resulted in her earning a starting spot this season.
“Jeri brings a tremendous work ethic to our team” said her coach Shane Sowden. “She is someone who has tirelessly worked at improving her game and it shows. She has dramatically improved since her freshman season and is now one of our key contributors at the point guard position.”
Brainard says that what she loves how much she has learned about life through basketball at Briercrest.
“My favourite aspect of basketball is the way that everything on the court relates to aspects of life off the court.”
This is something that she learned from Coach Sowden, who she quotes as saying, “Basketball is a mini game-of-life.”
Along with her parents and her husband who have always encouraged her to be the best she can, Brainard really credits Sowden for her development these last four years.
“He pushed me to be the player that I am now, and through his guidance I have made immense progress as an athlete and as a person. He saw in me a point guard, which I had never played before . . . he often saw something in me that I couldn’t see, but because of his leadership, I kept coming back every year.”
Brainard recalls a lesson she learned from her coach in her rookie season.
“My first season . . . we faced adversity every single weekend”, she said. “But what I really remember about that season was one talk Coach gave us. He said, ‘I’m not worried about whether we ever win a game; I’m worried about you girls being able to push through adversity in your lives. If you give up on basketball now, will you give up in your jobs, your marriages, your life?’ This hit home and I have never forgotten it.”
<strong>Experience for the future</strong>
The lessons she has learned through basketball will continue to guide her as she looks toward her future and trust what God has planned for her.
“My husband and I will be doing our practicum in Cameroon, Africa next year! When we get back, Sam will finish his business degree and then the whole world awaits us!”
Brainard has truly valued her experience with Briercrest Athletics.
“I genuinely enjoy going to practices because of the culture that has been created at this school and on our team”, said Brainard. “The game of basketball here at Briercrest is so much more than just a sport; it is truly a way of life through the way we are taught to persevere, love one another and do everything to the best of our ability for our teammates and our Lord.”