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Northern grad headed to Florida on basketball scholarship

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Troy Shantz

Samuel Fairbairn was just eight-years-old and new to Canada when he first stepped onto a basketball court.

But even back then the coach of the Northern Valhalla basketball camp, John Thrasher, saw his potential.

This summer, the much-taller Northern Collegiate grad is back instructing at the same camp that got him started. And come fall he will suit up for the varsity team at Florida’s Warner University, to which he has received a $7,000 U.S. scholarship.

“I was so excited,” Fairbairn said. “Just knowing for myself that I have the talent to… play in the States is just amazing.”

Warner is part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, a step below NCAA.

Fairbairn has secured a spot on the junior varsity team and can try out for the senior squad. If he makes it, the scholarship amount increases. The top players on the senior team have a nearly full ride.

Fairbairn will major in kinesiology and hopes to become a physiotherapist. It’s been his goal to play U.S. university ball for quite sometime and he has his family’s support.

He was in communication with several schools but Warner, about 30 minutes from Orlando, seemed the best fit, he said.

Originally from the UK, he hopes to play one day in a European league.

“I’ve always wanted to go back,” he said, adding that playing professionally in Europe can be quite lucrative.

“Some players, if they’re good enough, can make more than NBA players.”

Fairbairn was a member of the Chris Jones-led Northern basketball team that won locally, regionally, and went all the way to the Ontario championships this year.

He has received a training manual from Warner that, he said, is pretty intense.

“It’s more cardio and more weightlifting. I need to get stronger obviously, to play with stronger guys,” he said. “It’s going to be a huge change for me.”

Samuel Fairbairn has been an instructor the past three years at the Northern Valhalla basketball camp - the same camp at which he was introduced to basketball. Troy Shantz
Samuel Fairbairn has been an instructor the past three years at the Northern Valhalla basketball camp – the same camp at which he was introduced to basketball.
Troy Shantz

This summer, Fairbairn is completing his third year of coaching at the local Valhalla camp.

“I like coaching because I like interacting with kids,” he said.

“I want to help them out and give them what I had with my coaches back in the day.”

And he’s using his experience to spot others with potential at the month-long camp.

“I tell my coaches, ‘This guy, you’ve got to watch out for in the future.’”

 

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