Family Ties

Family Ties

(FREDERICTON, NB) Grace Wade is following in her mother’s footsteps.

Maybe that should be… running, jumping and shooting… in her mother’s footsteps.

And so is Caroline Healy.

Wade and Healy are members of the current UNB Varsity Reds women’s basketball team.

Their mothers… Sharon Keays(Wade) and Jill Jeffrey(Healy)… were teammates on UNB’s women’s basketball team from 1979-1982.

“I had other options, but I just wanted to carry on the legacy a little bit too,” says Healy, now in her fourth season with the Varsity Reds.

While the family connection may have had something to do with it, Sharon Wade says coach Jeff Speedy may be the biggest reason Grace is a Varsity Red.

“When Jeff came to UNB, I found he did a really good job going around the province and doing clinics, so Grace really liked him from a very young age,” says Wade. “And they kept in contact, and I think there’s no question of where she was going to go, mostly because of our communication with Jeff.”

Jill Jeffrey and Sharon Keays were integral players on a team that won a pair of AUAA championships, under coach Joyce Slipp.

“Sharon was just so great to play with and just so fast,” says Jeffrey. “She was unbelievably quick, she’s a phenomenal athlete and just always up tempo.”

Jeffrey says Keays wasn’t just a good player, she was a good teammate. “We had such a great team experience, and Sharon was a big part of that. We had fun, but we worked hard.”

Despite three decades in between, playing at the same school as their mothers has prompted comparisons. And those comparisons, at times, have been drawn by Slipp… who now works on the webcasts of the Varsity Reds home games.

“Joyce, on the video, says I’m a little bit faster than her, so we’ve been joking about that lately,” says Healy, with a grin.

“She’s going to kill me for saying it, but I think she was probably more athletic than me…  but, I don’t know, no comment,” says Grace.

“I watch her daughter play, and they’re very similar,” says Sharon. “Jill was a hard worker, a good defensive player and a really hard worker.”

This season’s VReds have a record of 10-and-8, heading into weekend home games against UPEI(Friday), and Acadia(Saturday). They’ve already clinched an AUS playoff spot, and Sharon Wade is hopeful.

“They have, I don’t want to say moments of brilliance, because it’s more than moments. I think the great thing about this team, from watching and listening to the girls is they have great girls, they really get along, they really respect each other.”

The Jeffrey-Keays-Healy-Wade family ties extend past the basketball court too.

Cameron Wade, Grace’s brother and Sharon’s son, played football at Acadia with Andrew Healy, Caroline’s brother and Jill’s son.

“I don’t know of too many families that can claim that,” says Jeffrey. “You know, that they have kids that have gone on to have very successful athletic careers.”

While they respect what their mothers did, so many years ago, Caroline and Grace are hoping to leave their own mark at UNB.

“I know that they made it to an AUS final, and if we could do the same there would be a lot of people that would be proud of us,” says Grace.

No one more proud than Sharon Wade and Jill Jeffrey.

BY – OSCAR BAKER, FOR UNB ATHLETICS