(Cheri Jubinville-Greaney with her daughter Gabriel (right). Gabriel is set to play Division 1 basketball at Alcorn State in Mississippi this fall. Photo: Brandi Morin/APTN)

Brandi Morin
APTN National News

Gabriel (Gabby) Jubinville just had a breakout year toward accomplishing her number one dream of playing professional basketball.

The 19 year old from Enoch Cree Nation near Edmonton, Alta., is headed to Alcorn State University in Mississippi on a full scholarship to play Division 1 basketball in the fall.

Jubinville just finished two years playing at Munroe College, in New Rochelle, New York.

Cece Taylor of the scouting and recruiting service of Taylor Made Basketball helped Jubinville to cross the border after noticing her talent at a young age.

“The minute I met Gabby at around age 13 out there in the Edmonton Area, I knew she had sheer determination and will,” said Taylor.

“She was a ball of passion, she was determined, she was fighting for rebounds, she was out there, she was active, she wasn’t afraid to back down. And I knew she was going to be playing divisional basketball at that age.”

She’s been playing for 11 years after taking a liking to the sport at age 8. That’s when she says she found something she was good at. Things got serious went she went to high school and made the top school teams.

“That’s when I found out that I could compete at the high level with good players that are in my league,” said Jubinville.

“It was because I was good, I was aggressive and I was fearless; didn’t care who was in my way. I didn’t want to be good, I wanted to be great.”

At one point Jubinville almost made it on the list of the top ten players in Alberta, but she ended up hurting her knee and was out for approximately six weeks. But her resolve to play basketball wouldn’t go away that easily. Soon after graduating high school she was set to move to Calgary to play at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT).

“I was all ready to go to SAIT, but I still kept on praying, kept God with me. God was a really big part of my life and helped guide me. And I put it in His hands whether I was going to go to the States or not.”

While Jubinville was preparing for SAIT, Taylor was working to get her to a higher level of playing. Just one week before she was due to leave for SAIT he called her about the opportunity to play in New York. And she went.

That first year so far away from home took its toll. And there was a time when Jubinville says she lost her way.

“It was hard…I was homesick and had no one to guide me and I was just going with the flow. I put myself in bad situations…got off track. I was reaching my dream but, just because you’re there you’ve gotta work for it, you can’t just go along with it,” she said. “So then I came home after first year of college, reflected and I told myself I wanna do better- I told myself, ‘I’m sick of this’. I was just as good as the other girls. I didn’t wanna be like the regular native who just does bad stuff or just had it all and then gets into drugs or alcohol, or gets pregnant or has a boyfriend or whatever,”

Jubinville went back to her second year then caught fire and had a breakout, record smashing year.

Taylor said it’s due to her hard work and strong heart.

“She worked on her game and she came back and she just had a hell of a season,” he said. “Her heart is something that’s just undeniable. I don’t think people in Canada understand. Gabby as a freshman averaged 3 points, Gabby as a softmore almost had a double double, was a third American career high of 43 points and 22 rebounds in one game and now she’s playing division one. She’s made leaps and bounds from her freshman year to her softmore year. So the future is extremely bright for her.”

She’ll leave for training camp in Mississippi in July then make the full move come September. She attributes much of her success to her mother, Cheri Jubinville-Greaney.

“I think it’s great for her. I just want her to stay grounded. Whatever she wants to do but to do it right, do it good, be humble, and as she moves in her basketball career or focusing in after criminal justice to make way for others,” said Jubinville-Greaney.

“Just like her people have made way for her. But whether they be native, black, yellow, white we need to lead all people, all nations in a good way. Whether we’re in Canada or in the States and love all people and be an example and care. I pray lots. I pray that she’ll be thankful and work hard. That to me is what’s the most important. She can do anything she wants, but she doesn’t need to be successful out in the world because she’s always my superstar anyway.”

Jubinville trains on a regular basis, basketball is her life, she eats, lives and breathes it. And her advice to other youth pursuing their dreams is not a walk in the park.

“I would say it’s not easy, it’s not going to be a piece of cake. You can’t just give up and be a baby about it. It’s so much hard work. No one really knows our genocide story (As Indigenous people) about our background here in Canada. No one really knows about us in the states and around the world. We gotta give it all we got,” said Jubinville.

Although she is working toward her bachelor degree in Criminal Justice, Jubinville’s ultimate goal is to play pro basketball. And Taylor believes she’ll get there.

“I think Gabby will complete that goal and I will be behind her 100 per cent in basketball. But as a person and as a young lady she’s career oriented on an everyday basis. She knows how to think and Gabby sets goals and I know she’s good at following through and making them happen so I’m proud of her. I know her family and how much this means to everybody in her tribe- I think it’s great, it’s awesome,” he said.

In the meantime Jubinville is practicing the recipe for success on how to reach that ultimate goal of superstardom on the basketball playing court.

“It takes hard work like any goal would take. It takes mindset, envisioning stuff and preparing yourself everyday like you would for work. You can’t be closed minded about anything. You gotta focus on yourself, kinda be selfish (I know you don’t wanna be selfish,) but that’s how you wanna be. You gotta trick your mind and tell yourself it’s going to be the best thing you ever did.”