When it comes to Bisons women’s basketball forward Claire Harvey, the apple did not fall far from the tree.
The Bisons veteran’s love affair was kindled by her father when she was 10 years old.
“I wouldn’t say he pushed me to play basketball, but I kind of always wanted to be like him,” said Harvey.
“He was a big basketball player — all his friends know him from basketball.
“So, I kind of just wanted to follow in his footsteps a little.”
Harvey played community club level basketball for four years before making a club team with some friends in her area. The 23-year-old then went on to play one year with Basketball Manitoba’s provincial team, comprised of the best young talent in the province.
When it came time to commit to a university program, Harvey was also recruited by Trinity Western University and the University of Winnipeg before ultimately choosing the University of Manitoba.
“I felt a good connection with the U of M because I had been to a bunch of their camps, I was a Junior Bison and I live close to the school,” said Harvey.
“It just seemed like the right decision to make at the time. I’m really happy with my decision. I stand by it for sure.”
The 2017-18 Bisons season stands out for Harvey because it was the first time in her university career she played a playoff game.
“It was definitely something I had not experienced in a long time,” said Harvey.
“Of course the nerves are still there, but I think it was an exciting time and interestingly enough there was, I think, less pressure on me because I just kind of wanted to enjoy being in playoffs and having that experience.”
It has not always been good times for Harvey at the U of M — she tore her ACL in her third season. The injury was made worse by the fact Harvey felt she was playing some of her best basketball before getting hurt.
“I was doing just a regular cross-over and I just fell,” said Harvey.
“I knew right away what it was because I had done it before. It was very devastating for me because I felt my hard work was finally paying off and then I got a setback with this injury and I had to go back to the drawing board basically.”
Harvey previously tore her left ACL when playing junior varsity. This time she tore the right.
Recovering from an ACL tear can be a long and arduous journey, but Harvey stayed positive through the experience.
“There were a lot of physical barriers that I had to break, like learning how to walk again and learning how to squat, run, like basic things,” she said.
“Moreso was the mental battle, like it was very difficult for me to kind of see the bright side in everything because a lot of the time you don’t see progress every day […] and then you’ll see a little bit.
“It’s very tough. Mentally, you have to keep in a good mindset in order to stick with it and luckily I was able to do that.”
The severity of the injury also forced Harvey to consider the long-term implications, and even put her future with the Bisons in doubt.
“I want to be able to walk when I’m 45 and not have so many knee problems,” said Harvey.
She weighed the pros and cons and decided to finish off her Bisons career.
“Since I had seen how good I can play, I kind of wanted to finish what I started and I didn’t want to give up and that’s not really in my nature anyways,” said Harvey.
She added that the moment she stepped back onto the court, the recovery, the pain and the wait were all worth it.
“The first time I stepped back on the floor at [Investors Group Athletic Centre] after my injury was a pretty special moment.”
Harvey is graduating with an undergraduate degree in environmental science this spring and hopes to make a difference in her career.
“I want to be doing some conservation research,” said Harvey.
“Definitely try to make this world a better place than when I came into it. So hopefully I can get something related to that, I think I’ll be happy.”
Although Harvey plans to be off the court for a while, she will not close the door on a return.
“I would love to just take some time to do normal people things and not spend 24 hours a day in the gym,” said Harvey.
“It’s definitely a door that I’m not going to close. I’m keeping my options open, let’s just say that.”