Travis Valanne, a forward on the St. Thomas University men’s basketball team, found his passion for basketball and teaching and now wants to help children find a sport they are passionate about too.
The third-year history major is from Miramichi and has been involved with basketball his whole life.
“I started playing for fun with some of my buddies when I was in Grade Two, but I didn’t take it seriously until middle school age, when I was watching my older sister and being around my dad,” Valanne said.
He had played for two N.B. provincial teams, his middle and high school teams, and has been involved with the STU team since his first year.
He has also played soccer, volleyball, cross-country and track and field.
For him, basketball has really connected to his family.
“It was something I shared with my dad and sister,” said Valanne. “I just fell in love with it and they pushed me through it.”
When he was in high school, one of the STU coaches asked him to come play basketball for the university. One of the reasons Valanne chose STU was to be close to his sister, who goes to the University of New Brunswick.
“It made sense to be close with family far away from home,” said Valanne.
But ultimately, Valanne chose STU because he wants to pursue the education program after he graduates.
He believes playing sports at STU and doing the education program will help him gain the leadership and teamwork skills he needs to pursue his dream.
“I’m hoping to be a gym teacher [and] help kids find at a young age a sport they love and help them with it, push them through it,” Valanne said.
This year, Valanne wants to get better and help the team in any way he can.
“The goal for the year is to make it to play-offs and give ourselves the chance to fight for the championship,” Valanne said.
Although being a student athlete can be challenging sometimes because of all the travelling, Valanne thinks starting work early is a good way to properly balance sports and school.
“The best way to get through that is make sure you focus, get a head start on things, meet with professors and academic advisors,” Valanne said. “That’s what made it easier for me to juggle both responsibilities.”
For Valanne, his team has been like a second family to him since his first year at STU.
“We have so much in common with everybody because we see each other from the first day we move in September until March break,” Valanne said.
“We are there together every day.”