Hyacks' Sider to sidle on up to SFU to play hoops next season
One evening this winter, Ariana Sider thought it would be fun to watch her friend and former teammate Kia Van Laare in action with the Simon Fraser University women’s basketball team.
So the New Westminster Hyacks point guard called up Van Laare’s mom and asked for a ride up Burnaby Mountain to take in the game.
During her high school career she frequently noticed Clan coach Bruce Langford scouting in the stands, and when she did she was always trying to make a good impression. After the game that night at SFU, Langford approached Sider and asked, “what are you doing next year?”
“I’ve got a couple of options,” Sider replied as her heart skipped a beat.
“Why not come up for a visit to see if you want to play for us?”
Want to play for SFU? Of course she wanted to play for SFU. She’d been coming to games since she was in Grade 6, even playing in their youth halftime games.
The five-foot-seven dynamo quickly agreed to the visit and the result is Sider has committed to play for the Clan next season. Although she had interest from the universities of Toronto and Saskatchewan, the Clan was Plan A all the way.
“If you grow up in Vancouver your dream is to play at SFU. The tradition there is great,” says Sider, who is leading the Hyacks into their fourth consecutive appearance at the provincial AAA championship in North Vancouver this week. “I was so happy to have that option.”
Langford has been scouting Sider since before she played for the Hyacks.
“She was very competitive and very feisty and had a good offensive skill set,” says Langford. “I liked her basketball IQ. I hope she’ll be able to shoot the ball well at our level. You never know. Success in high school doesn’t always guarantee it at the university level.”
When the school year started, Sider was getting a little antsy because all of her provincial teammates had scholarships and she didn’t. It didn’t help that she suffered a hamstring injury early in the season, and then her first game back who should show up in the stands but Langford.
“I was just horrible. I was nervous, I hadn’t played that bad for a while,” recalls Sider.
Fortunately, she made up for it in other games, especially those against archrival Handsworth Royals from the North Shore.
“I got used to knowing that he was going to be there,” says Sider. “It’s obviously nerve wracking, but at the same time it’s exciting. The pressure to have to deliver, it was good mentally for me.”
Sider is the latest in a long line of stellar point guards Hyacks bench boss Doug Woodward has coached including his daughter Krista, Mollie Stelmack, Norma-Jean Roberts and Van Laare. He’s happy Sider will get to play for SFU.
“The NCAA Division II is a neat league. When you travel the other teams get good fan support. The atmosphere is great. The games are a lot more fun,” says Woodward. “She’ll do well. She’s in a good situation. They like to run, they like to press so she’ll fit in.
Woodward believes Sider would benefit from being redshirted the first year so she could get used to SFU’s system. Then her freshman year would be Van Laare’s senior season with Sider in the wings ready to take over in her sophomore year.
“She plays pretty good defence. I remember we won a game when we beat Handsworth in the semifinals at a junior tournament. And she stole the ball at a key time,” says Woodward. “She doesn’t foul out, she dribbles well, shoots well and understands the game well.”
Hoops and hardwood are near and dear to Sider’s heart. Always will be. She practises hard year round, she helps her father, Rob, coach her younger brother’s team, and she often runs drills at Hyack practices. It’s no shock when she declares, “I really do want to become a basketball coach.”
“[Basketball means] pretty much everything. I sometimes wonder what it would be like without it. I can’t even imagine,” says Sider. “I build my day around it. I definitely sacrifice a lot for the sport, but I don’t regret any of it. I’m not just winning, but developing myself as an individual.”