Timea Gardiner walked in to a room at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, last week to learn whether or not she had made the cut for the Team USA U16 Basketball Women’s U16 National Team.
There, at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Chile in less than two weeks’ time.
“I was starstruck, I didn’t really know how to react, I kind of just froze,” Gardiner told the Standard-Examiner on Monday. “When I left the room I called my family and I was screaming and crying tears of joy.”
The next part of the Fremont High sophomore’s basketball journey starts later this week when she will return to Colorado Springs for training camp until June 12. Then the team flies to Chile where the tournament will be played from June 16-22.
“I still think I’m dreaming. It’s surreal, it’s an honor and a privilege to play for and represent your country,” Gardiner said. “I think I’m dreaming still.”
Forty-two players were called to Team USA’s tryouts last month. Gardiner made the cut each time, eventually landing a spot in a four-day training camp with 18 finalists at the Olympic Training Center and eventually finding out that she would be on the plane ride to Chile.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet. I feel like when I put my jersey on and it says ‘Team USA’ then I’ll think, ‘Wow I’m playing for my country,’” she said.
Gardiner took part in last summer’s U17 World Cup Team trials, but didn’t make the cut for U17 national team that went 7-0 and won the FIBA U17 World Championships in Belarus.
But she learned what type of competition was out there, specifically how versatile and tall players out-of-state can be.
Gardiner used last year’s experience to help her with this year’s tryouts, which feature tiring sessions playing with and against some of the best high school-age players in the country.
“...I knew what to expect and not to come in blindsided of what’s to come. I try to key in on defense, that was what I did last year. That got me pretty far. I try to be a great defender and have fun most of all, and I did that. It was really really cool,” Gardiner said.
In her first season playing at Fremont, the 6-foot-3 Gardiner averaged 13.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per game to go with a 45-percent shooting mark from the field and a 74-percent clip from the free throw line. She was named to the Standard-Examiner All-Area Girls Basketball First Team.
Gardiner doesn’t know what jersey number she’ll wear, but she hopes it’s the No. 10. Her father Andy wore No. 10 while playing for the England National Team in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.
Either way, Gardiner says she isn’t nervous despite the prospect of spending nearly a month far away from home.
“The people that I’m with, my teammates, it’s like a second family away from home,” she said.
The FIBA Americas U16 Championship will be played far away in a city called Puerto Aysen.
The time zone in Chile is just two hours ahead of Utah, but Puerto Aysen is located in the extreme southern region of the country known for prominent, glacier-carved mountains.
Puerto Aysen is about 85 air miles from the Northern Patagonian Ice Field and about halfway between Santiago, the Chilean capital, and Cape Horn, the southern-most tip of South America where the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans meet just a few hundred miles away from Antarctica.
Two area girls soccer players commit to Division I schools
Last girls soccer season fewatured several Division I-bound players, including Syracuse’s Caroline Stringfellow (BYU), Weber’s Camryn Karras (Air Force), Weber’s Brinlee Collings (Colorado College), Davis’ Zoe Jacobs (BYU), Davis’ Olivia Romney (Utah State) and Box Elder’s Mylan Daniels (Seattle University).
Add two more to the list. Arizona State University, of the Pacific-12 Conference, announced last week it has signed Bonneville senior goalkeeper Ashley Croyle.
Northern Arizona University, in the Big Sky Conference, recently got a verbal commitment from Syracuse junior defender Kelsey Steed.
One could almost field an entire team with the amount of graduating seniors who will be on Division-I rosters next season.