GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
Yoosrie Salhia's arrival two years ago marked the beginning of a major turnaround for the Men's Basketball team. Lakehead moved from occupying the last place in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West Division in 2008-09 to competing in the Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) National Championships, and ending 2009-10 as the 6th best men's varsity basketball team in Canada.
Much of the credit goes to the head coach Scott Morrison and team captain Yoosrie Salhia whose leadership style involved lots of hard work and setting an example on and off the court. Yoosrie was one of the top rebounders in the country when he was recruited and is still one of the top "post" players. His focus is crystal clear: "I want to help make history with the Lakehead University Basketball program. I want to see us win the conference championship next year and the national championship.
Yoosrie Salhia is a third-year concurrent education student. He is an Academic All Canadian, meaning that he maintains an 80% average, and is the recipient of the 2009-10 Hank Akervall Award, awarded each year by the Department of Athletics to an athlete who shows outstanding leadership and community involvement.
The Men's Basketball team – like all Lakehead varsity teams – spends many hours doing volunteer work in the community. Last year the team prepared and served meals at a local soup kitchen (Shelter House) on eight separate occasions – one for every home game played in Thunder Bay. As well, the team hosted several high school and elementary school basketball clinics. They participated in an elementary school reading program at C.D. Howe Public School, and visited the Justice Ronald Lester Youth Centre, a secure custody facility in Thunder Bay for young people who are being detained or serving sentences.
"These events and activities help the players develop as well-rounded individuals," says Morrison. "They draw us closer together as a team and the experience helps the players become leaders in their communities upon graduation."
Yoosrie is the youngest of five children whose parents immigrated to Canada from Egypt over 30 years ago. At Western Technical – Commercial High School in Toronto he played rugby, football, volleyball, and basketball. He also coached the boys' Bantam basketball team. For the last four summers he has been working in Toronto with the Boys and Girls Club of Weston-Mount Dennis, this year as the camp coordinator.
His professional goal is to teach History and Physical Education at a high school in Toronto, but not before seeing if he can develop his basketball skills and play at the professional level for a few years. Living in Thunder Bay has helped him to "slow down and become a lot more focused." His long-term goal is simple: to settle down, have a family, and help other city kids − like himself − find their way in life.