Miyazaki aims for Team Canada spot: basketball superstar turns attention to gridiron

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Katie Miyazaki (far left) and the Saskatoon Valkyries in action last season against Winnipeg.

Katie Miyazaki is trading in her basketball jersey for a set of shoulder pads and a football.

The Huskies’ basketball MVP and reigning Canada West defensive player of the year completed her fifth and final season of Canadian Interuniversity Sport eligibility on March 19 but is not letting that stop her from fulfilling her love of sport.

Miyazaki has decided to try out for Canada’s national women’s tackle football team, which will compete at the 2013 world championship Aug. 2-10 in St. John’s, N.B.

“Football is a sport that anyone of any size can play,” said Miyazaki, “and it is a nice transition out of basketball. This is a special opportunity because I never thought I would be trying out for Team Canada for football. That was never in my mind, but it is cool to see the sport grow and gain interest.”

She is anything but new to the sport and first started playing in high school at Hugh Boyd Secondary School in Richmond, B.C.

In 2011, during Miyazaki’s first season on the Huskies basketball team, she was introduced to the Saskatoon Valkyries, the city’s first women’s tackle football team. It was the team’s inaugural season in the Western Women’s Canadian Football League.

Miyazaki helped lead the Valkyries to the league championship and was a vital part in the squad’s undefeated regular season and undefeated playoffs.

Fast-forward a year and Miyazaki is getting excited for another season of football and for a chance to represent Canada on the international stage.

The tryout process is a long one that starts on April 29 when Miyazaki, along with several of her Saskatoon teammates, will try out for Team Saskatchewan. That provincial team will then travel to Montreal in August where individual players will compete for a spot on the national team.

2013 will mark the second Women’s World Football Championship. The first was in Stockholm, Sweden in 2010. Canada finished second behind the U.S.A.

Miyazaki doesn’t think she will ever train for football as hard as she did for basketball, but says she enjoys the strategy of the gridiron sport.

“I think football is a more coached sport, and it’s very technical. Small mistakes in football have a bigger impact because the play lasts only six or seven seconds and you have to be sharp for each play,” she said. “In football you have a job and you have to do it. Football is really cool in that way because every point is a team point.”

Football has also provided Miyazaki with the opportunity to coach elementary students about the fundamentals of the sport. She volunteers at the Saskatoon SportsFest, an event that takes place at various times throughout the year and educates youth on a number of sports.

“I love sports. They are a big part of my life. If I could end up coaching a sport it would be a sweet deal for me,” said the 23-year-old Miyazaki, who has one year remaining in a Masters of Public Health. “I have fun with the kids and enjoy introducing to them to the games that are out there and available for them to play.”


File Photo: Raisa Pezderic/Photo Editor