It is a homecoming, of sorts, for Briar MacDonald, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
After playing her final high school basketball season at King's-Edgehill School in Windsor, the Antigonish native is now a freshman with the St. F.X. X-Women.
“It was a really tough decision,” the soft-spoken forward said of where she decided to play at the varsity level.
During her lone campaign in the gateway of the Annapolis Valley, after three seasons with the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional Royals, MacDonald got “a lot of exposure” while suiting up for a team that played across Canada and the United States.
“It was always my dream to play at the highest level,” MacDonald said, noting she received offers from Division 1 universities.
Nevertheless, her desire to return to Antigonish and play for a young and growing X-Women program became the determining factor in her decision where to take the court.
“I really wanted to play for my hometown,” MacDonald said, noting the opportunity to play in front of friends and family.
She is excited about following in the footsteps of X-Women she watched growing up, including her sister, Tristan.
“We, sort of, lucked out,” second-year X-Women head coach Lee Anna Osei said, noting the interest MacDonald garnered from NCAA and U Sports’ schools.
“We are so happy to have her.”
As for what MacDonald brings to the program, Osei said the first-year student-athlete is “just special.”
“Briar is going to be an exciting player to watch,” she added.
The X head coach talked about her length; at 6’3”, she can influence the game – both offensively and defensively – in so many ways.
She can block shots and defend any position, while also offering a ball-carrying option when the X-Women are trying to beat pressure defense.
“Briar is developing – more and more – into a complete two-way player,” Osei noted.
With the ability to pass and “push the ball,” she said MacDonald has the greenlight, when it comes to leading the X-Women’s fast break.
Osei added she will be one of those types of players who “fills the stat sheet,” noting MacDonald’s ability to score, pass, rebound and shot block.
“There is so much potential and there has been so much growth,” she noted.
Describing her as a “workhorse,” Osei said MacDonald has been training non-stop since wrapping up her season at King’s-Edgehill.
“I am trying to get better in every area,” she said.
MacDonald continues to focus on areas, such as ball handling, along with getting stronger physically, while finding more ways to effectively get her shot off.
“I think everything is coming along,” she said.
She expects MacDonald to continue on an upward trajectory – not only because of her talent and dogged work ethic, but also due to the fact she is “very coachable.”
When asked about the strengths of her game, MacDonald laughed.
“That’s a hard one,” she said, before taking a pause.
MacDonald talked about her ability to get up and down the floor, while using her length to contribute on both ends.
“I think I am a versatile player,” she said, noting her ability to block shots and also help bring the ball up the floor.
As for goals in her freshman season, MacDonald said she wants “to make an impact” – both offensively and defensively.
She added she will “do anything to help our team out.”
When it comes to her start in White and Blue, MacDonald described it as “amazing.”
“I love our team so much,” she said.
MacDonald noted the freshmen and newcomers, along with the returning players, continue “getting used to each other.”
“I think we are going to be very dynamic – we are starting to jell on the floor – more and more,” she said.
That group will open the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) regular season Saturday (Nov. 2) when they tip-off against the Dalhousie Tigers in Halifax.
MacDonald’s debut – truly at home – on Coach ‘K’ Court at the Amelia Saputo Centre will take place Friday, Nov. 8, at 6 p.m., when the X-Women host the UPEI Panthers.
When asked if she will be nervous taking the court for the home opener, the first-year human kinetics student said “for sure,” but quickly added she is confident she will be ready to perform and contribute.
“I am going to do the best that I can,” MacDonald said.