Jane Boyle has a sense of humour, loves making people laugh and brings energy to a room.
It was no laughing matter a couple of years ago when Boyle didn't make an elite team from her hometown province of Nova Scotia.
"I got cut from my first year trying out for an elite team, but I came back the next year and made it impossible for the coaching staff to cut me," said Boyle. "It was an under-14 team, but I came back taller, stronger and more determined to make the under-15 team. Since I made that team, I knew I wanted to play basketball in university."
Fast forward a couple of years and Boyle is mere months away from realizing her ambition.
Boyle, who plays with powerhouse Citadel High School in Halifax, has committed to the University of New Brunswick where she will don the red and black of the Varsity Reds, part of the rebuilding crew of dedicated future teammates in the Atlantic University Sport Women's Basketball Conference.
She is not a stranger to the Richard J. Currie Center, either.
Boyle toiled with the Halifax Thunder Selects program, her team part of the UNB Junior Varsity Reds tournaments that unfold each June. She's also spent a couple of weeks each of the past two summers training in Fredericton.
"Our Thunder team played one of the first games ever at the Currie Center and I've always wanted to go back," said the five-foot-10 forward. "I've attended UNB elite camps the past two summers and that's been a blast training at the Currie Center and re-enforcing my decision to come play at UNB."
Music to UNB head coach Jeff Speedy's ears.
As a university coach, you lay groundwork for program success. When Speedy started the Junior V-Reds program a few years ago, it wasn't just an opportunity to allow some local and regional players to hone their skills in the summer.
Other programs in Eastern Canada and Eastern United States started to learn about UNB, too.
It's not just coaching from October through March. It is a twelve months a year gig.
Speedy was fired up over Boyle's decision.
"She was highly recruited by most if not all of the AUS teams so it means a lot she is coming to UNB," he said. "Jane is a key player and starter on arguably the best women's high school basketball team in the Maritimes. She had a great summer with the Nova Scotia Canada Summer Games' team last year. She's also versatile and can play more than one position with a great combination of athleticism, skill and grit. Jane will help our team immediately."
Playing with Citadel, Boyle is used to success. It's a powerhouse program, in the midst of an 84-game winning streak. Coming to the AUS and Canadian Interuniversity Sport is going to be a battle. She will be up against women in her next step, but Boyle said she's ready.
"I want to be a part of a competitive environment where everyone is at an elite level," she said. "It's going to be a big change playing in the AUS, but I'm looking forward to the challenge."
Boyle will study kinesiology at UNB, but when not hitting the books, she'll be hitting the floor with her trademark style of play. Which means she's not a lot of fun to play against.
"I consider myself a team player and I like to bring an aggressive style of defence to my team," she said. "I enjoy rebounding at both ends of the court."
She also has shown rebounding from disappointment is a lesson in life after the experience of not earning a spot on the Thunder under-14 elite squad. It still fuels year almost four years later.
"Not making that under-14 team helped me realize just how much I love the sport of basketball and it simply motivated me to work harder and continue to get better," she said. "I went from not making that team to making the Canada Games' team. That was an indescribable feeling. All of the hours that were put into the gym paid off. It has made me a much more determined and stronger player."