Know Your Athlete: Gladys Hakizimana

Fifth-year Martlet basketball star guard Gladys Hakizimana has been involved with basketball from a young age. A Montreal native, Hakizimana has always enjoyed the competition and camaraderie of playing sports.

“I started playing basketball in elementary school,” Hakizimana said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “I was a really shy person, and my mom would always register me in different activities […], and [eventually], I fell in love with basketball.” 

There was no girls’ team at Hakizimana’s elementary school, so she played with the boys. 

“That’s why I am extra competitive now,” Hakizimana said.

Basketball, and sports in general, can teach valuable life lessons. Hakizimana noted how learning teamwork, discipline, and organization from sports have helped her succeed in other facets of her life, including school.

“I know [that] with [my] hectic schedule, I have to find ways to do my school work and do weights and cardio and find time to shoot the basketball,” Hakizimana said. “I really have to be organized.”

On top of classes, homework, and personal training, Hakizimana spends her Mondays working at a gym and has team practices in the evening. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, she has team practices from 6:00 to 8:30 a.m. With such a busy schedule, it is difficult for Hakizimana to have a traditional social life. However, she still manages to build strong relationships with her teammates. 

“If I’m not doing homework, I’m working, so there’s not really a social aspect to my life right now. But, [I have] no regrets, I love it,” Hakizimana said. “Being a part of this team, obviously I love the girls [….] They’re like my social life.” 

Hakizimana is an incredibly hard worker, and this has translated to many accomplishments on the court. Hakizimana cites the Martlet’s National Championship win in 2017, the first women’s basketball national title in McGill history, as her greatest accomplishment.

“The fact that we [had] one victory and four losses in the first semester, and we ended up winning the Provincial [Championship] and then winning [the] national [title], […] was just […] a miracle,” Hakizimana said. “I can’t forget. I have the ring at home, and the goal is to get another one.”

Outside of playing basketball, Hakizimana likes to read, listen to music, meditate, and do yoga. Yoga and meditation help her body recuperate after training and also keep her calm and positive. As far as books go, she enjoys the drama genre. Her favourite book to date is Black and White by Paul Volponi. 

“Even when I watch movies or Netflix, I will go to a drama category,” Hakizimana said. “I like scary movies too and scary books [….] I just like the suspense.” 

After McGill, Hakizimana does not know if she will continue playing basketball. 

“That was my dream as a kid, but I got a few bruises and injuries along the way,” she said. “But I’m going to think about it [and decide] soon.” 

Whether or not she continues to play basketball, Hakizimana plans to pursue a career in social work. 

“I want to help youth,” Hakizimana said. “I want to work with kids and young adults to be there for whatever they need me to be there for. Just help them go down the right path. I love helping, and I like listening, so that’s the main reason I went into social work.” 

Although her final season has had a rough start with, three losses so far, Hakizimana remains hopeful that results will improve over the rest of the season. 

“As a team we’re going [one] game at a time, so no pressure,” Hakizimana said. “But, we’re definitely trying to win Provincials and head to Nationals and hopefully go for the gold.”

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