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Serena Tchida wins perseverance award through long-time passion for basketball

Women’s basketball star picked for RSEQ All-Star team, wins U SPORTS award.

Stingers star Serena Tchida dominated the 2023-24 basketball season, finishing with the most overall points scored and the second-highest scoring average in the league at 15.1 points per game in the RSEQ. The forward finished with the third-highest field goal percentage, and fourth place in rebounding, averaging 7.2 rebounds per game. She was selected for the RSEQ All-Star Team, along with teammates Areej Burgonio and Rowena Blais.

She performed at this level in her first year back from a season ending tear in her Achilles tendon, which she suffered in the second half of the 2022-23 season, away against ULaval’s Rouge et Or. For this impressive feat, Tchida won the Tracy MacLeod award for determination, perseverance, and an unwavering spirit while overcoming adversity.

“The first time I heard of this award was in my first year. Myriam Leclerc won the award, so I had an example of what you need to do,” Tchida said. 

Coincidentally, Leclerc won U SPORTS Rookie of the Year in 2019, and Tchida was selected for the RSEQ all-rookie team in 2021. “It was one of my goals to get that award,” she said. “I tried to focus on my work, and gave all my worries and stress to God.”

Tchida started playing basketball in her fourth year of high school. Growing up in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, she attended Saint-Luc High School, where she tried out for the school team with her friend. Her friend didn’t make the team, but Tchida did. She didn’t originally have a passion for basketball, but gradually discovered her talent along with a sense of family in her teammates, and support from her coaches which she didn’t have at home. 

One day, she was at Pagé Basketball with her friends for a shoot-around. A coach who was casually watching was impressed with her talent, and suggested that she try out for CEGEP Édouard-Montpetit. Which is what she did, and succeeded yet again. Although, for her, basketball was still only a pastime, and not pursuable in the future. 

Before her Achilles tear last season, Tchida suffered another major basketball injury in 2019, while she was playing for Édouard-Montpetit. She was anxious, as she was being scouted for the first time in her life. Coach Tenicha Gittens from Concordia University was visiting.

For the first time, she felt important, wanted, and looked forward to possibly being coached by a Black woman. Her whole career thus far, she had been coached by men. During the game, Tchida tore half of her ACL amid a scuffle on the hardwood. She shot right back up, and pushed to stay in the game. Unfortunately, her team’s athletic therapist refused. On the bright side, Gittens was convinced.

“That’s when my passion started,” Tchida said. “I saw that I was wanted by someone. [Gittens] took care of me since day one. I have a really good relationship with her… It was a dark time for me, but she didn’t let me quit, she didn’t let me go.” 

Fast forward to January 2023, Tchida tore her Achilles tendon in what seemed to be an unprompted, unexplainable manner. The small-forward was frustrated, as she had caught momentum after her impressive rookie season, where she averaged 6.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. 

“[Gittens] really helped me through the injury,” the All-Star forward explained. “She visited me at the hospital, she brought me to the hospital by car in Québec. She made sure that everything was on the table for me so I could just eat it. Her and my assistant coach, Shawn Browne, I’m super grateful for them because they made it so easy for me to get better. They made a good investment in me, and I was able to return it.”

Tchida said the secret to her speedy recovery was perseverance, all while staying calm and being in the present. “I didn’t put pressure on [myself],” Tchida said. “I was just going day by day and giving my all everyday. I was making sure that I gave the effort that I needed to, doing my exercise, eating good, being there for the girls, and putting 100 per cent effort.”

The leader has high expectations for her upcoming final season, and is grateful for every member of the Stingers. “I would love for us to go to nationals and play during nationals and live the experience that I lived when I went to get my award,” she said. “I want to win the championship for my coach and for my teammates and for everybody that believes in me.” 

Serena Tchida hopes to play at the professional level, and believes she will with help from her coaches.

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