Wolves Glad O’Hallahan Changed Net for Basket
by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips
02/24/2014...Grande Prairie, Alberta - Take off the word NET and replace it with the word BASKET and you have the world of Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves’ 2012-2013 All-Canadian women’s hoops star Kelly O’Hallahan.
It was in high school that the Ngatea, New Zealand native had to decide on whether following the path of netball or the path of basketball.
Not that she was bored with netball, but she decided to continue dribbling her way with basketball...which is basically a form of netball with a backboard.
“Netball is big back home and I started playing it in elementary and then I started getting into basketball in high school (Hauraki Plains High School),” recalled O’Hallahan, whose mother Tammy is a Canadian and her father Ross from New Zealand. “Netball was more a girls sport and growing up with brothers I had a chance to get into basketball and I liked the aggressive nature of it more than netball.”
O’Hallahan, now 21 years-of-age and in her third year of wearing the Wolves jersey, said she moved to northern Alberta for one semester of high school basketball in Grade 12 to be “closer to her mom’s family (her parents and her brothers now residing in Grande Prairie region),” and “I knew I wanted to play college ball somewhere in Canada, so I played there so I could be looked at and scouted.”
The jump from New Zealand high school basketball and one semester of Canadian high school basketball, to collegiate basketball was unique for O’Hallahan.
“I had to learn the technical side of basketball by learning from the coaches, watching a lot of game tape and reading play books. College was much more technical than in high school, where you basically go out and play. In college there is a lot more preparation.”
In her rookie year of ACAC hoops (2011-2012) O’Hallahan, who averaged a team high 12.4 points per game and 6.0 rebounds per game, said she was very “quiet and shy.”
She recalls: “Socially I was really quiet and shy. We had a lot of veterans on the team and I tried to watch them and learn from them. It took me a while to be more vocal. Now in my third year I am more vocal and my game has improved.”
Last year, when recognized as a CCAA All Canadian, she averaged 21.1 ppg and 8.9 rpg with more than 3.32 steals per game.
At first, O’Hallahan did not understand the importance of the CCAA recognition.
“When coach Dave Waknuk first told me, I really didn’t understand what it meant. Then he sat me down and told me what it entailed and when he explained it to me I was really honoured.”
Asked if there was pressure of living up to the All Canadian status, O’Hallahan replied.
“No...I don’t think so. People have seen me three years now and have watched me improve. They know and I know, that I am not going to be an All Canadian every game. so I don’t feel any pressure to meet any expectations.”
This year the 5-foot-9 guard, who is enrolled in Bachelor of Education studies, made a near clean sweep of Wolves statistics as she was tops in scoring, 18.14; rebounds, 10.67; assists, 2.57; steals, 3.91 and blocked shots per game at 0.52.
She led the ACAC in rebounds per game and was second in scoring to Megan Wood of Grant MacEwan University Griffins who scored at 19.91 ppg clip.
This fall O’Hallahan is joining the Griffins and moving with them into the Canadian Interuniversity Sport ranks.
“Moving here (Grande Prairie) has been pretty much a life-changing experience. It is not something I really expected to do coming out of high school...making the decision to move to another country. Although I had been here many times to visit my mom’s family....it was still a huge decision.
“I do not regret it though. It has developed my game and I have made lifelong friendships. I would not change anything.”
Studying for a Bachelor of Sociology, O’Hallahan said that she may one day pursue a professional basketball career in Europe.
Asked is she considers herself an all-around player?
“I don’t know. I really don’t concentrate on one thing at a time. It’s basically whatever I can do to help my team win.”
That Kelly O’Hallahan is indeed and all-around player.
Kelly O’Hallahan, with ball, has the inner drive to succeed