Jama Bin-Edward, left, wraps herself and coach Carly Clarke in the U Sports flag following Ryerson Rams’ national basketball championship earlier this month. Photo courtesy Ryerson University

National title, MVP honours cap varsity career

  • April 20, 2022

U Sports women’s basketball tournament MVP Jama Bin-Edward of the Ryerson Rams is still coming down from the high of an undefeated season which culminated in the program’s first national title in early April.

With a 70-48 gold medal victory over the University of Winnipeg, Bin-Edward says she never doubted her team but admits there were moments along the way where she wasn’t sure it would be possible for her as an athlete.

The last couple of years have been anything but easy for the Waterloo, Ont., native and former Resurrection Catholic Secondary School student. After a great start to her varsity career, becoming an OUA (Ontario University Athletics) all-star in her second year, Bin-Edward tore her ACL in January 2020. With non-essential surgeries delayed due to the pandemic, the procedure didn’t take place until August of that year and marked the beginning of a long, challenging recovery process.

“During that time period when I was rehabbing, we went into lockdown, so I wasn’t even able to see my therapist in person,” said the 5’ 10” forward. “I was doing therapy on my own via Zoom, which is obviously not something that people with torn ACLs do, but that’s what I had to do during the pandemic. That was a wild ride. I wasn’t even able to play the first half of this season because I was still recovering. To come back for the second half of the season was just a whirlwind and the best thing that could ever happen.”

After more than a year of recovery, Bin-Edward eased back into competition with limited minutes in November and December and was back full force in January. She credits the support and encouragement from her family, friends, staff and teammates for helping to keep her dreams for her varsity career alive. 

Throughout her years at Ryerson Bin-Edward says she has also continued to get plenty of support from the coaches at Resurrection Catholic Secondary who have kept a close tab on her varsity career.

“My mom and my parents were all praying for me throughout the entire recovery process,” said Bin-Edward. “They’ve been there and I know that they’ve really prayed for my recovery because they know this is what I wanted to do. The people at Resurrection like my head coaches, even the men’s head coach, throughout the years when we would play Laurier (University in Waterloo), they would come and watch me. They were still tweeting me and (direct messaging) me saying congratulations throughout my entire career. It’s just been really nice to see.”

Carly Clarke has been the Ryerson women’s basketball head coach since 2012 and is also a part of the Canadian national team program. Clarke is still reflecting on the journey to their perfect season. She spent a long-time recruiting Bin-Edward and was thrilled in 2017 when she committed to Ryerson.

Clarke came on board with the university because of the school’s desire to create a culture of women’s basketball excellence in the nation’s basketball capital, Toronto. Athletes like Bin-Edward have been a big part of that journey. Since being with the team, Clarke has tasted victory over the years, winning the OUA championship in 2015-16 and other honours over the years, which Clarke says were stepping stones to where the program is today.

A key contributor on both ends of the floor, averaging double digits in points, Bin-Edward’s recovery from a torn ACL to MVP honours, Clarke believes, is a testament to the tenacity and work and work ethic that has marked her varsity journey.

“I think she’s always been an MVP-calibre player,” said Clarke. “She’s played her best when her best is needed or on the biggest stage. We saw that through the playoff and national championship run. Whether she’s scoring, defending, rebounding, anything, she’s just a leader in every way with her work ethic, effort and attitude.”

Finishing up her final year as a politics and governance major, Bin-Edward has a year left of varsity eligibility but has no plans of taking advantage of it at this point. She feels capped out as a varsity athlete, she says, but is definitely open to the other possibilities that could await her as an athlete. She is considering continuing her athletic career possibly overseas. Though that was not something she ever thought she could dream of growing up, her growth over the years has made it a viable option.

She credits her positive environment for helping her to believe she could “do anything” and made her accomplishments this season possible. Down the road, she might also be interested in a career in sports management.

“Playing university sport is not easy,” said Bin-Edward. “I think that you have to just surround yourself with great people that push you and want you to do better. I think that when you’re in environments like that you’re almost guaranteed to thrive. I think that’s what happened with the people I surrounded myself with here at Ryerson.”

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