Basketball Dynamo Justine Colley
Featured in Maroon & White magazine, Spring 2014
The open staircase in the Homburg Centre for Health & Wellness is more than an airy backdrop for photos of Justine Colley and Andrew Russell. Forward-looking, impressive and strong, it’s a fitting symbol for two of Saint Mary’s most recent graduates.
Colley takes her place on the bottom step, smiling for the camera as she recollects memorable moments from the past five years at Saint Mary’s—both as a Finance major in the Sobey School of Business, and an all-time great athlete for the Saint Mary’s Basketball Huskies.
One of the top players to ever play in the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) conference, Colley finished her university basketball career with five selections as a first-team AUS all-star, four as an all-Canadian—including three first-team nods—and one on the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) all-rookie squad. She is a two-time CIS player of the year (2012-13 and 2013-14), and most valuable player in during the same period.
“My accomplishments reflect the incredible support I’ve received from family, friends, coaches and professors,” says Colley, displaying the modest, team-first attitude that characterized her years as a Husky. “It was a real honour to play with such strong, talented girls. Our head coach, Scott Munro, recruits good athletes, but he also recruits good people. As clichéd as it may sound, we’ve become a family.”
As a graduate of Halifax Grammar School’s International Baccalaureate program, and a stellar basketball athlete, Colley had her pick of universities. “I was recruited by at least one school in almost every province in Canada,” she says. Saint Mary’s had a winning combination of small class sizes, a strong tradition of athletics, and close proximity to her home in East Preston, NS. “I had the independence of living in residence, but could still go home for dinner whenever I wanted.”
WHAT SHE LIKED MOST ABOUT SAINT MARY’S
There’s an amazing sense of community on this campus. I walk through the halls and see hundreds of familiar faces. As one of 20–the size of some of my classes here–I was able to build relationships and feel I belonged.
ADVICE FOR NEW STUDENTS
Pay attention to your schoolwork. You will be pulled in many directions by extracurricular activities like social events, clubs and athletics. Sometimes it will be a struggle, but you have to remember that you’re here to get an education. That has to come first.
PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
I’ve played basketball since I was eight years old. Now it’s time to look for a job. My future is undecided, but I plan to live in the Halifax area and I’d like to begin my career with an entry-level position in Finance. I’d also like to travel and coach. And I’ll continue being part of Saint Mary’s and telling everyone I meet what an amazing place this is.
Colley declares herself happy to have chosen Saint Mary’s, grinning as she steals a glance at the Homburg Centre’s reception desk, the place where she met her fiancé Nicolas Leger, an officer in the Canadian Army.
“Coming here is the best decision I’ve ever made,” she adds, “and not just because I met my fiancé. Saint Mary’s is a lot about support and relationships-not just on the basketball court, but also in the classroom. It’s an amazing place to be a student athlete. My professors have cheered me on from the stands and congratulated me in class when I had a good game.”