Occasionally a child enters your life and their spirit and energy moves you to want to go above and beyond to make things happen for them. That's how I would describe the impact Mckenzie Sigurdson had on my life and P.H.A.S.E. 1 as an organization. Her love for basketball was purely her love for the game. In 2006 Mack arrived at 11 years old with a big smile and her ball in hand to my P.H.A.S.E. 1 Training Centre at Eastern Commerce H.S. in Toronto ON. Our training relationship would last 6 years and end with me getting to see her play her final high school game at the Air Canada Center, home of the Toronto Raptors.
“ I worked out with all the high school girls-it was probably the hardest work out I had ever done up to that point. But I couldn't show that to the older girls. The weekly workouts were amazing because I felt so welcomed by the older girls and Coach Dawkins as the head trainer.” – Mckenzie Sigurdson
As a trainer you know not every child possess the same athletic gifts, some are blessed with quickness, some natural strength and some leaping ability. Mckenzie has many gifts but her great hand eye coordination and a natural feel for the ball in her hand separated her from her peers. This was evident from how quickly she picked up balling handling and passing drills. At 11 years old she could already out dribble most of the older kids at the P.H.A.S.E. 1 Training Centers. By time she was 15 I had her leading ball handling drills for the prep boys in P.H.A.S.E 1 Academy at Vaughn Road Academy in Toronto, ON.
Even with all the gifts the challenge remained to improve her speed and quickness and it quickly became the focus of our development work with her. Mckenzie's work ethic seemed to increase every training session and you could see she was not going to make any excuses for why she wouldn't play this game at the highest level possible. She rarely ever missed a workout, even while sick or on her game days. Mack was always the first to arrive at the gym, often putting up shots with her dad tirelessly rebounding for her.
We always referred to Mckenzie as a true P.H.A.S.E. 1 Baby! She participated in every training program, Rising Stars Showcase and All Canada Prospect Camp. Usually while volunteering at the same time. She was our trusted score keeper for the Men’s Elite 1's league, Lady Elite 1's and All Canada Classic’s. From a very early age Mack told me she would one day play in the All Canada Classic and by her senior year with all her success leading her school team, Northern Secondary in Toronto, ON, it became clear to the 2012 All Canada Classic Selection Committee, Mack had earned her place in history.
Sadly that moment at the Air Canada Center almost never happened. Little did Mack and the other girls selected know I was receiving pressure from our shoe sponsor to drop the girls all star game to receive more resources for the Boys All Canada Classic- Rumble in the T-Dot game. Once again I was faced with the same dilemma that surfaced in 2004 when Alisha Tatham (2004 Girls ACC-Rumble MVP, U. Massachusetts, Canadian Women's National Team) approached me to add the first Girls Rumble in the T-Dot All Star Game to what had been an all male event. Many people doubted a girls all star game would not be overshadowed and lost besides the boys game. I always reminded the girls all star teams before they played that they were viewed as an undercard game and almost every year they provided the greatest games filled with multiple overtimes, buzzer beaters and tremendous team play.
All that aside, in my heart I could not help but be concerned about the possibility of letting Mckenzie down. I had to do my part to not let her miss out on ending her career at the event she dreamed of participating in one day. Our P.H.A.S.E. 1 Event Team got together and the decision was made to move forward with the 2012 Girls All Canada Classic-Rumble in the T-Dot National High School All Star Game at the Air Canada Center. Great memories for a lifetime was created that day and not only did I get to see Mckenzie have the experience she waited years for, I had the pleasure of presenting her with the 2012 Girls Rising Stars Award at the All Canada Classic Awards Banquet.
“It was one of the most amazing games to be a part of, I think about playing at the Air Canada Centre with such fond memories. Especially when I go to watch a Raptors game, I still can't believe I got that opportunity, pretty amazing.” – Mckenzie Sigurdson
Congratulations Mckenzie on taking that contagious energy and work ethic to Ryerson University and helping to lead the 2016 Lady Rams to their first gold medal in the women’s program history at the Ontario University Athletics Championship and first silver medal at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport National Tournament .
Mckenzie's Journey of an Elite 1 has many more milestones ahead and P.H.A.S.E. 1 is proud to have assisted her on that journey.