Wolfram's journey takes her to Spokane

MARK HUNTER / Kamloops Daily News
December 27, 2012 01:00 AM


mma Wolfram's basketball career has taken her to all sides of the globe, so a trip to Spokane normally wouldn't be anything special.

But with a career with the Gonzaga University Bulldogs on the horizon, there's a little more incentive for Wolfram to have a good week at her future home.

Wolfram and the South Kamloops Titans senior girls basketball team are in Spokane to take part in the Gonzaga prep tournament, which ends Sunday.

The Titans have been perfect at tournaments this season, winning the Mouat Century 21 tournament in Abbotsford on Dec. 1, the REB Classic in Edmonton on Dec. 15 and Kamloops' Fulton Cup on Friday. South Kam is the No. 1 ranked AAA team in B.C., and is looking good to win its second straight provincial championship.

Wolfram isn't looking past this week, but, for the 6-foot-4 centre, playing in Spokane - likely for the last time before she moves there - is pretty special.

"I think this will be different," she said Sunday. "There's better competition at this tournament and the (Gonzaga) coaches will be coming to watch us."

It seems as though Wolfram won't have to do much to further impress Gonzaga head coach Kelly Graves. Graves, now in his 13th season with the Bulldogs, has taken Gonzaga to three consecutive Sweet 16 games, and has the team 10-3 this season.

He also coaches in a style that suits Wolfram perfectly.

"Everything looks really good," Wolfram said. "They run a post-oriented offence, and that just reinforced to me that going (to Gonzaga) was the right choice."

But it wasn't an easy choice for Wolfram, who also was considering the University of Colorado.

When she made the decision, Wolfram had more than basketball on the brain - she was thinking of her education, too.

"It's a smaller university and there are smaller class sizes," said Wolfram, who plans to take kinesiology with an eye on becoming a physiotherapist. "It's more like high school that way. And it's close to home."

Wolfram took a tour of the school, and met up with Kelly Olynyk, who plays for the Bulldogs' men's team.

Olynyk, who played at South Kam alongside Wolfram's brother, Josh, now is a junior at Gonzaga. (Olynyk's sister, Maya, is the only other senior on this season's Titans team).

Like Kelly Olynyk, Emma Wolfram has international plans in mind, and the Bulldogs allow their players the freedom to pursue them in the offseason.

"They will allow me to leave in the summer for national team commitments," she said. "Some schools don't."

And if Wolfram wasn't allowed to partake in events with Team Canada, she would miss out on a lot of fun.

Wolfram, despite being only 17, has worn Canada's colours constantly over the past few years. In fact, she missed last week's Fulton Cup so she could attend a junior national team tryout camp in Toronto.

Although there weren't any university-aged players at the under-19 camp - the older players had obligations to their college and university teams - Wolfram thought the workouts were helpful.

"It was a great group of girls," she said. "This camp mostly focused on offence; we didn't do much defensive stuff.

"Canada hasn't been great with offence historically at international events, so it was good."

Wolfram's international experience should be helpful in her bid to make the team, which will be picked in the spring and will attend the world under-19 championship in Lithuania in late July. This past summer, she helped the Canadian cadette team win a bronze medal at the world under-17 championship in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

She had a slow start to the tournament, but in her last six games averaged 10 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots. In the bronze-medal game, an 84-77 victory over Japan, Wolfram had 15 points and 15 rebounds.

She also has taken part in international qualifier tournaments as well as the Pan American Games in Mexico in October 2011. She averaged 10 points and 10 rebounds as the Canadian senior women finished sixth.

Wolfram also has had an impressive run closer to home.

She started basketball with the Steve Nash Youth League while in Grade 4, and helped Summit Elementary win the city title in 2008.

The next season, Wolfram and the Sa-Hali Sabres won the provincial Grade 8 girls title, before she transferred to South Kam and helped the Titans win the B.C. junior title in 2010. She was the MVP of both provincial championships.

Wolfram moved up to senior ball in Grade 10, and was named the top defensive player as the Titans took third in the province in 2011. That set the table for last season, when the Titans fought their way to the provincial title with some help from Wolfram, who was named MVP and top defensive player.

Wolfram is hoping there's as much success - individual and team - in her future as there is in her past.

She has a lot of memories already, but has enjoyed the international competition especially.

"Possibly the Pan-Ams," she said, in picking a favourite experience. "I was playing against older girls, pros, WNBA players.

"Seeing them showed me where I was and what I need to do."


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