Published: Nov 23 at 11:33 p.m.
SYDNEY, N.S. — Hannah Brown was nine years old when she first attended a Cape Breton Capers basketball camp at Sullivan Field House on the Cape Breton University campus.
The North Sydney native remembers walking into the gym and seeing the orange and green colours on the walls and looking up to the university players, something she dreamed of one day being a part of.
From that moment on, she knew she wanted to play in Atlantic University Sport with the Capers.
"I grew up going to the games and going to all the camps and knowing all the players and being that fan-girl that would always wear an orange shirt and sit behind the bench and watch every play — I grew up a Caper," said Brown.
"For me, it wasn't too hard of a decision to play for Cape Breton University because, at the end of the day, I had been dreaming to play for the Capers forever and I knew I had to take advantage of the opportunity."
The 22-year-old began playing basketball in Grade 3 at Seton Elementary School in North Sydney. She credits her mother, Rachelle, for influencing her to play the sport.
"She was trying to get me into sports or something I could fit into since I was a really tall girl at a young age — I was trying to find my thing," said Brown.
"Tim Vickers, Len Harvey and Capers head coach Fabian McKenzie helped me during my career, too — they really motivated me to want to be a better player."
The six-foot-one forward later moved on to play high school basketball with the Memorial Marauders.
"I knew I'd be going to Memorial and to play for the Marauders was a huge goal for me," said Brown. "It was the best time of my life playing high school basketball and being in a competitive league — as players, we knew each other so well, we became a family right away and we clicked."
After a successful career with the Marauders, Brown was recruited by the Capers and has been with the club ever since and is currently in her fifth and final season in the AUS.
Brown remembers going into her first year with the Capers and talking to former Memorial player Danielle MacDonald, who spent time with the UPEI Panthers in Charlottetown.
"She told me to soak up the experience as much as I could because the time flies by so quickly, but at the time I never really thought about it," said Brown. "Now that I'm in my final season, I don't know what I'm going to do when it's over because it's been my life for so long."
Although she has cherished all of her time with the Capers, Brown will never forget the moment the team captured the 2017 AUS championship at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.
"It was an indescribable feeling to see that all of the hard work had paid off as a group and as an individual," said Brown.
"To feel that moment of winning was amazing and to see all of our fans — who made the trip from Cape Breton — all running out onto the floor wearing orange and green to celebrate with us, it was a huge moment for me and reminded me of that sense of community and being part of something."
Brown, who is enrolled in the bachelor of business administration program at Cape Breton University, entered the 2018-19 season coming off 311 points last year, which ranked fifth among players in points in the league.
"Hannah is going to be our leader on and off the floor and that's what she's grown into in her five years here," said Capers coach McKenzie in an earlier interview with the Cape Breton Post.
This season, the Capers are without AUS star Alison Keough of Marion Bridge, who wrapped up her university career last year, finishing second in the league in points with 357.
Brown said there is pressure to provide offence for the team this season, but it's not something she thinks about often.
"It's not about being stressed out about that stuff, it's all about enjoying it and being in the heat of the moment and performing when I can and doing my thing," she said.
"I love this sport and I want to do well for my team, my university and Cape Breton and if I'm able to do that and we're able to band together as a team, I have nothing but confidence in the club."
As for Brown, she hopes she can finish her AUS career with a championship title in March.
"I'm really excited about this season and I'm really happy with the team — I'm looking forward to seeing how things play out." said Brown.
• Hometown: North Sydney
• Age: 22
• Position: Forward
• She played her high school basketball at Memorial High School in Sydney Mines
• She is currently in her fifth and final season with the Cape Breton Capers