By Karen Kelly

Gabrielle Francis, Political Science

Gabrielle Francis, Political Science Photo: Marc Lafleur

As a kid, Gabrielle Francis loved playing basketball, but it was in middle school when she realized how good she actually was.

“I was playing on my grade 8 team and then the coach from the grade 9 team invited me to play with them. And then the coaches from the junior team and the senior team asked me to play with them, so I was on every girls’ basketball team in my school.”

Francis grew up in Vancouver, so it was a big change to come to Ottawa. But she was motivated by both the athletic and academic opportunities.

“I’ve known the coach, Dani Sinclair, for a long time, and I really liked the girls when I met them,” says Francis, who handles rebounds and deflections as a centre. “On the academic side, I’m in political science, and what better place to study than in the capital? I knew it would give me some interesting internship opportunities and I could still train for the team.”

Francis and her teammates won the Canadian women’s basketball championship against Queen’s University on March 12, 2023 in a tense game between arch-rivals.

“It was the fourth time this year and I don’t think there’s a school in the country that hates us more than Queen’s. Just a week before, we celebrated winning in their gym and cut down their nets,” recalls Francis with a mischievous smile. “They were not happy, so they came out really strong and really angry.”

Queen’s took the lead in the first half, 31-26, then Francis said Carleton “put the clamps down” on the Queen’s offense.

“When we’re not hitting shots, we focus on defence and try to get stops on defence,” says Francis, describing how the team can shift gears mid-game. “Our momentum and confidence flows from there and that translates to easy offense.”

Carleton won the championship match 71-59.

“Whenever I start getting nervous, I think about how I’m doing it for the team. It really is like a family,” she says.

After spending a couple of months back home in Vancouver, Francis will return in late July to start training and to work at Carleton’s basketball camps. Next summer, she’s hoping to do an internship in her field.

“I am just kind of figuring it out right now,” says the third-year student. “I’m in a public policy class, which is really interesting, so that could be a good avenue to pursue.”

23-02-11 WBB v Nipissing Gabrielle Francis (15)

Friday, May 5, 2023 in
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