By John Elambo
Former SBA star Kylee O’Hara said it’s a special thing being a kid from Ajax playing NCAA Division 1 basketball.
“It is such a prideful feeling to be able to accomplish something that I myself, and other younger girls have dreamed of and made it come to reality,” said O’Hara who attends and plays for the University of Eastern Michigan.
This pride stems from a quote her SBA coach Brian Breedy once relayed to his team.
“There are 430,368 female high school basketball players (In the United States). Of those 430,368 female basketball players, 26,721 play college basketball. Which means that 1.1% of those female basketball players play Division 1 basketball.”
To this day, that quote has been the most impactful message O’hara has received.
“I took this message, and I ultimately became determined to become a part of that 1.1% of female basketball players to receive a division one scholarship,” she said.
O’Hara loves the fact that the SBA opened her eyes to the endless possibilities basketball could bring — friendships, travel, scholarships and cherished memories that will last a lifetime.
“The best part about the SBA were my coaches and teammates that always saw the boundless opportunities I could accomplish,” she said.
In particular, O’Hara mentioned three former teammates, Brianna Breedy, Keishana Washington and Tiya Misir, who are currently playing college basketball in the United States.
“They’re some of my best friends to this day,” O’Hara said. “These girls have always been there for me and I will be forever grateful for them all,”
O’Hara has a family history in the SBA, as her mom, Kim, was significantly involved with her daughter’s SBA team. She attended practices, games, and tournaments.
“She also contributed a lot to our team apparel. Everything including hats, bags, jackets, and clothes, my mom helped with it all,” O’Hara said.
When she was really young, O’Hara started with soccer but then became interested in gymnastics until she learned that being a gymnast requires you to be short — which O’Hara isn’t, standing at six feet tall.
“So, that’s essentially why my mom put me in a sport where being tall was a great thing,” she said.
O’Hara’s earliest memories of basketball was training with Gary Durrant (President and Founder of Durrant Sports) at his basketball camps and she recalls being the only girl there.
“I was incredibly shy, timid, and practically hated being there,” she said. “However, once I started realizing my potential and all the opportunities that came with basketball, I really started to enjoy the game.”
As her basketball career took off, she was able to gain some experience on the international stage in the Team Canada Basketball U17 and U18 assesment camps, making memories she’ll never forget.
“There are so many people all over the country that I have the chance to meet and also compete against,” she said. “However, I definitely won’t miss fitness testing which was not only hard physically but also hard mentally.”
O’Hara began her college career in 2018 with Florida International University (FIU) where she played her freshman and sophomore seasons before transferring to the University of Eastern Michigan.
“The most memorable part about attending FIU for both my Freshmen and Sophomore years was the learning I acquired in regard to my mental health,” she said. “Transferring to Eastern Michigan University was a huge step for myself and I truly was able to acknowledge and prioritize my mental well-being. Therefore, I transferred to Eastern Michigan University as a way to better my mental health and also to be closer to home.”
When college career winds down, O’Hara said playing professionally isn’t something she’s considering.
“I really am focused on achieving my career aspirations and I am looking forward to what that chapter in my life holds,” she said.