Guelph native has excessive hopes for last college basketball run

‘I’m excited to start the next chapter of my life. I think basketball has prepared me for that in a super good way,’ says Jada Codrington

Jada Codrington had a tough decision to make, but is happy with her decision.

Now in her third year of eligibility of university basketball with the York Lions and her fourth year studying at the university, Codrington decided this will be her last season of competitive basketball.

“This year I’m actually graduating,” the Guelph native said in a video chat. “I’m going to be done with basketball after this year.

“I think I’m ready to be done, to be completely honest. Because I’m graduating, I want to figure out what I want to do with my life, essentially. With everything, with COVID, I’m just satisfied with my basketball career so far. I’m confident to say I’ll be done after this year. It was a hard decision at first, but…”

Codrington’s been playing basketball since she was four years old and her parents got her into house league basketball as one of her best friends, Jessica Mathieu, was playing.

“I just love it,” Codrington said of the sport. “I think it'sa space where I feel most confident in myself and who I am and it’s a place where I can express myself and it’s a place that challenges me, but in good ways. It definitely builds up my confidence and honestly I think it’s just something that comes out of me effortlessly and I can just flow with it.

“It’s kind of a surreal feeling and I felt that ever since I started playing competitively in Grade 3. It’s a great environment to be in. I’ve had the privilege to grow up and play with other players who are playing high-level D1 and I’ve got to learn from them. I’ve got to have so many great coaches. It’s given me a second family anywhere I’ve been. It’s crazy, I love it so much. There are so many great aspects to it and it has taught me so many live skills. It’s taught me that life isn’t fair and you have to work hard for a lot of things in it. It’s also just been my safe space, I guess. Even if I’m having a stressful day, especially in university where there’s a lot of schoolwork. Just going to practice is my outlet. It just lets me forget about everything that is stressing me in life.”

Codrington is happy with her decision as she was happy to be just playing basketball again. A high school all-star at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic High School in her final junior season as well as her first and third senior seasons, Codrington would miss her second season.

“Essentially, it was in Grade 11 and I came back from a mission trip,” she recalled.

“Going back before that trip, I had a concussion and I was always tired – regular concussion symptoms, always in bed. And then I was perfectly healthy before I went on that trip and I came back and my parents started to notice, not all the concussion symptoms, but some of them — sleeping all the time and everything.

“And then I just started to get super sick. All of a sudden in two weeks I lost 20 lbs. It was just one thing after the other. It was crazy health symptoms of every disease out there. Essentially, I just wasn’t healthy enough to play basketball. I wouldn’t even make it to school. There were a lot of things. I was falling asleep in class. I was passing out.”

It took two years for Codrington to be diagnosed with a form of spondylitis and relapsing costochondritis.

“One is a spinal condition and the other is a tissue condition,” she said. “That took a huge chunk out of me playing basketball which was a challenge because basketball was my escape to everything and I lost that. And there was a point where I didn’t even know if I’d ever get to play again.

“Essentially, I have two rare autoimmune diseases. That’s kind of what happened and there was a huge chunk (of time when) I wasn’t allowed to play basketball and I wasn’t physically or even mentally capable of playing just because all of the health things I was experiencing affected that.”

During those two years she was asked if it was just in her head, or if she was doing drugs, drinking alcohol or just throwing up in order to lose weight.

“I’d be like ‘No. I’m a student/athlete.’ I wouldn’t be in conflicting this illness onto myself because I had goals at that time coming out of high school to play basketball at the next level,” Codrington said. “That period of time, Grade 11 and Grade 12, is when you really have to lock down because that’s when scouts are looking at you. That was frustrating and just the thought of not having basketball. I was like, ‘Well, who am I?’ Basketball had been my identity I guess you could say since I started playing.”

But Codrington does know she was fortunate to get diagnosed.

“I’m thankful enough that I got diagnosed after two years because both of my conditions, they’re rare and the average to get diagnosed with them is six to eight years. I’m very fortunate that I got diagnosed in the time that I did,” she said. “There were so many ups and downs. I was misdiagnosed, gosh, I think literally over 10 times and I was on different medication all of the time. Even from my first year to now, the medication that I’m taking is completely different.”

Now she’s happy to be playing, something that can be seen by the smile that’s usually on her face when she’s on the court and there’s a break in the action. Her family and plenty of her friends saw it when the Lions played the Guelph Gryphons last month at the Guelph Gryphons Athletics Centre.

“I was grateful that I got to come back in my final year and play one more time there,” she said. “It was definitely nice to have the support, especially in my last year, and to see all my friends there.”

And she got to see her younger sister and the Lourdes Crusaders play in and win the CWOSSA AA final in Cambridge a few hours after her game in Guelph. That’s a title she and the Crusaders had won in 2016.

Codrington and some of her teammates at Lourdes who were at the game glanced at the championship plaque to see their win engraved on it.

“That was so long ago that we won.”

Now the time left in the university basketball season and her final year of schooling – she’s majoring in criminology – will likely fly by.

In the league games she’s played this season, all starts, she’s averaged 27 minutes of court time and just under 10 points per game. That’s up from 21 minutes and 5.6 points per game last season and 10 minutes and 2.5 points per game in the 2019-2020 season.

“I want to miss basketball,” she said. “I don’t even know when it’s going to hit me. I’m going to miss the team aspect coming into the gym every day and seeing my teammates and getting to spend time with them. I’m going to miss it when I come back and see a game and see the excitement and the fans and everything. I feel that’s when it’s going to hit me.”

Codrington will likely have some emotional moments, especially during the final home game of the regular season when she and the other graduating players are to be honored. That’s a tradition at every university in Ontario.

“As of right now I’ve thought about it and I’m not sad that it’s ending,” she said. “I’m more happy that it honestly happened because I didn’t ever know if I was going to play basketball again. I’m excited to start the next chapter of my life. I think basketball has prepared me for that in a super good way.”

And what will be a good final season?

“I hope we get further than last year,” she answered. “We lost in the first round of playoffs and I hope we make it past that and that’s the goal for our team this year. I think if we hit that goal, I’ll be satisfied with my final year knowing that we put in all that hard work and we came out with the goal that we wanted — or even better, hopefully. I’d say that would be a good last year.

“I’m just really grateful that it happened and it happened the way it has gone.”

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