Emma Tomchuk, a Grade 12 student at R.D. Parker Collegiate in Thompson, is one of 12 high school students in the province recognized by Basketball Manitoba with a scholarship.
Tomchuk was awarded the Donovan Gayle Scholarship, presented to a Grade 12 student who displays the qualities of perseverance, determination and resilience.
In her application, Tomchuk, who has missed her last year of high school basketball and much of her Grade 11 year as well due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said it has always been a battle as a player from a small northern community.
“I have always had to travel anywhere from four to eight hours just to play in some tournaments or try out for provincial teams,” she wrote. “However, I never let this deter me from playing the sport I loved, for I showed my determination by working hard, raising enough money to help my parents pay for the costly trips to Winnipeg or Brandon.”
That determination paid off in 2019 when she earned a spot on the under-16 female provincial team.
“I had to work 10 times harder than any average basketball player to even have a shot at following a dream to play at a post secondary program for basketball and because of where I lived I knew that there were times when I would have to leave my family behind to chase my dreams," Tomchuk said.
Her coach, Christine Sim, said Tomchuk is the type of athlete who consistently tries to improve, so much so that it was a challenge to find ways to push her further because of the high level she was already at.
"Emma is like a sponge when it comes to basketball and has a never-quit attitude," Sim wrote. "It has been a privilege to coach and teach her."
The 12 Basketball Manitoba scholarship recipients were chosen from among 116 applications.
Tomchuk plans to use the $500 scholarship in pursuit of her goal of playing basketball at a post-secondary institution while studying to become an X-ray technician.