Sister pact

Playing basketball a family affair

- October 23, 2007

Laurie Girdwood. (Nick Pearce Photo)
Leah Girdwood. (Nick Pearce Photo)
For a sports team to have success coaches often preach treating your teammates like family. For the Dalhousie Tigers women's basketball team, that comes pretty easily as two sets of sisters play on the squad, Laurie and Leah Girdwood and Brittany and Brooke Sullivan, from Miramichi, N.B.

Laurie and Leah Girdwood are fraternal twins who are playing their third season under head coach Carolyn Savoy. Born in Halifax, they moved to Waterdown, Ont. in sixth grade. Laurie, who is two minutes older than her twin, says that's when they really started playing basketball on a competitive level.

"We were always tall for our age, so basketball was a natural fit," she says. "We didn't really play too many other sports, touch football in high school, but for the most part it was basketball."

Laurie at 6'3" is a centre, while Leah at 6'1" plays as a forward. A recreation management student, Laurie credits Leah with their move back to Halifax, "Leah really wanted to come back to Halifax and go to Dal, I was more open to different universities, but once Leah decided on Dal I figured it was a great fit for me too."

"That's true," adds Leah, "I sort of did all the research into applying and making sure we had all the right information and forms." Leah is currently studying sociology with the eventual goal of attending Dalhousie Law School.

Once the decision to apply to Dal had been made, Laurie contacted Dr. Savoy about playing for the Tigers. "I sent her an email and one of the coaches came out to see us play."

The rest is history. Laurie and Leah have been regular players for their first two seasons, and their dominating presence has an impact on the style of play that opposing teams bring to the court. Having two big, strong players is a dream for most teams, let alone a women's side. Last year, with the Girdwoods supporting a talented back court of veteran players including Kelly Donald and April Scott, the Tigers finished the regular season 16-4 and Laurie picked up her first individual honour — a second team AUS all-star selection.

A lot of teammates live together — it helps with bonding and motivation — but for the Girdwoods, their bond as teammates and roommates goes far beyond that. Their love of basketball is a family affair. 


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