As one of only two fourth year students on the St. Thomas University men’s basketball team, Justin Grant has found playing with a team of mostly younger players challenging and a valuable learning experience.
Grant grew up in Winnipeg, Man. and came to STU after he spent two years at Fleming College for police work in Ont. and a year at the University of Winnipeg.
Grant likes that Fredericton is smaller but misses the big city opportunities.
“Fredericton is a lot smaller [than Winnipeg], it’s pretty small and easygoing,” said Grant.
“Coming from Winnipeg I find that there just is not a lot to do here … Winnipeg is a lot more diverse.”
After he left police studies, he found STU’s criminology program and the basketball team a perfect fit for him.
He has played basketball since seventh grade. His dad was a big influence on how he got into the sport.
Balancing school work and basketball has been a challenge, but working hard on his academics and working hard on the team has made Grant better with his time management and work ethic.
“I used to just do enough to get by, and getting to university was just a slap in the face to start working,” Grant said.
“I realized I had to start dedicating my summers and in-season to constantly work on my craft for basketball, and if I didn’t then I was just going to stay in the same place and not go anywhere.”
Basketball has helped him stay focused and be prepared for working hard in university.
“If you keep on working hard and just stay persistent with it, almost always by your third, fourth, or fifth year you have a bigger role on the team,” Grant said.
Playing with a mostly first and second year team, Grant stepped up to set an example as an older player.
Although the team did not make it to the playoffs, the team has a lot of potential to grow together and get better for next year.
“I find that a lot of players that come up to this level were the starting or star player in high school, if not all of them,” Grant said.
“Most of them get discouraged after their first or second year because they don’t have that same impact as they did in high school.”
Grant hopes by stepping up as a leader on the team this year it will help him next year playing on the team again with a lot of the same players.
“I’m not necessarily a vocal leader, but I’m more of a lead by example, because I am not very talkative,” Grant said.
Grant gives advice to first years who are getting involved with basketball and are trying to balance their studies to push toward their goals even if they aren’t getting the results they want right away.
“The biggest thing is to just stick with it and you’ll get there. Everyone goes through it.”