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Three-sporter top NOW female

Provincial disappointments shape a new direction

Being involved was a hallmark for the Burnaby NOW's female high school athlete of the year.

St. Thomas More Collegiate senior Sarah Hughes, the school's two-time female athlete of the year, made sports a career path while at the Burnaby independent school, participating in three sports from the day she enrolled in Grade 8.

In fact, from her junior years on, Hughes went to all but one of the provincial high school championships available to her.

Hughes also volunteered with school programs that helped the unfortunate in the community and Agape, an outreach Christian ministry program that serves the unfortunate on the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.

"I feel like I'm giving back. It makes me feel good," said Hughes, who was also a part of the school's pep squad. "We make candy bags for the people. We have fun making them and it brings us together. We know it helps."

Help is something the multi-sport athlete brings to whatever team she happens to be on.

Hughes helped STM to three consecutive varsity volleyball and soccer provincial finals, while missing out on a third straight appearance at the B.C. AA basketball championships when STM's star player Lexie Der went down with a leg injury late in the season.

"I had played with (Lexie) for so long, and when that happened, it was not good at all," remembered Hughes. "(Lexie) took it so well, she came to all our games and practices. We all texted her every day. I guess it showed our team had a bit of an obstacle to overcome - that it was still possible."

But a two-point loss to Seycove in the final provincial qualifying matchup was not the first or last disappointment that shaped Hughes' final year at STM.

The volleyball team placed eighth at the B.C. tournament after an encouraging regular season.

"We were a really good team this year. Maybe there was one thing that didn't let us go where we wanted to go. We could have easily come first or second," said Hughes.

But rather than see her Grade 12 year reflected in a championship medal, it was shadowed in disappointment.

After failing to qualify for basketball for the first time in three years, STM's highly ranked soccer field also found its road to the final rerouted.

"I think that was just shock," said Hughes. "Really? That just happened? We were that close to going to the final."

The pivotal moment game in STM's final game of pool play at the provincials. Leading by a goal in the final minute, the Knights gave up the lead to Ballenas, which tied the score in the final 30 seconds. The Nanaimo school then went on to win in overtime.

The loss dropped STM out of the final four.

"Just going through it all, I just think, I don't know, it was difficult. ... Maybe it helped me," Hughes said. "I grew as a person and learned from that. It helped me. Now I know what I have to do as an athlete to get over it. I have to learn to push myself harder."

Hughes was recruited by college scouts to play basketball, but chose to try out for volleyball at Capilano University this fall instead.

A power hitter with the Knights, Hughes has played club ball since Grade 10 with the Thunder club, which finished fourth at this year's nationals in Division 1 Tier 2.

Hughes is determined to learn and grow from her high school experiences.

"When everything did happen it was, 'Why?' But, when you're going through it, you have to take that positive from it and go with it, and learn more."

"I just always played. Other people would like to dance. I'd just like to kick a ball," she said.

"I think (my older brother) enjoyed it. He helped me out. I always liked playing and he'd tell me to stick with it. I never really thought about not playing."


- Kimberlee Van Duynhoven - Central - soccer, volleyball

- Evangeli Anteros - Byrne Creek - basketball, volleyball, soccer, netball

- Lexie Der - STM - basketball scholarship