Alumni . Basketball . Education . Sports

Sun Youth and Forensic Technologies Team up for the 2023-24 Scholarship award

March 11, 2024

Sun Youth and Forensic Technologies Team up for the 2023-24 Scholarship award

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Sun Youth and Forensic Technologies have teamed up to present university bursaries for Deborah Aboagye and Katerina Stoupas, making them the first female basketball player recipients. Both played together at Sun Youth, and after CEGEP teamed up at Bishop’s University, where they helped reshape the program into a powerhouse. Today, as graduate students, they are pursuing post-graduate degrees while playing, Deborah at UPEI and Katerina at McGill.

Sun Youth’s Earl De La Perralle scholarship encourages Hornet alumni to pursue post-secondary studies, and supports those who continue playing their sport through university. Forensic Technologies has also contributed and are happy to help our former student-athletes.

Deborah and Katerina shared some thoughts about their respective journeys, and former Hornets coach Shannah Ernest, who oversaw their development as players and young women at Sun Youth, chipped in with some observations of her own.

Deborah

Growing up, almost all of my time was spent at Sun Youth. Whether it was for basketball practice, the annual Christmas tournament scorekeeping, after-school homework, or the day camp during the summer, Sun Youth has childhood memories that I hold near and dear to my heart. It’s the place where I started some of my greatest friendships till this day, like [Katerina] Stoupas.

Katerina

I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the Earl De la Perralle Scholarship. Sun Youth basketball was the biggest steppingstone of my career as an athlete. This program was my family away from home.

Deborah

Shannah Ernest was my first coach at Sun Youth, and she, without a doubt, is the best role model any young girl could have asked for. She showed me what it meant to lead with integrity, the meaning of work ethic, and how to have empathy and care for others around you, all values I could see daily at Sun Youth through their impact in the community.
I would also like to mention Mr. Hughes, who was also an influential figure in my adolescence. Coach Hughes brought a shy little girl out of her shell, showed me what it was to be disciplined, and, most of all, taught me to always believe in myself and what I can achieve.

Katerina

My coaches Shannah Ernest and Leslie Hughes took a chance on a kid who had very little skill and instantly changed my life. They showed me what hard work and determination is, and that basketball is not just about basketball, it’s about playing for something bigger than yourself. They are the reason I love the game. I am forever grateful for the impact that had and currently still have in my life, not only as a player but as a person.

Coach Shannah Ernest

Katerina embodied hard work. She had the type of attitude that could immediately change the energy on the court, whether that was in a game or in practice. All we needed was one physical play from Katerina, followed by a fist pump, and we were ready to go!
Deborah wanted to perform but didn’t want to make a mistake. She put in the time, she put in the work, she wanted to know how she could improve. She was so talented and athletic. We needed to create the space for her to see in herself what we saw in her. Once she got out of her own way, it was like a switch flipped and she was unstoppable.

Deborah

Although to most these people might just be coaches, they altered and shaped the trajectory of my life and showed me skills and values that I carry with me today. I could not be more grateful to Sun Youth for putting them in my path.

Katerina

This program allowed me to form friendships that I currently still have to this day. Key memories are when we would go on road trips together during AAU and end our summer at the Sun Youth cottage.

Shannah

Our team was like a family. They valued their relationships with their teammates and their coaches. [Deborah and Katerina] prioritized academics from a young age and knew that their academic performance came first. The discipline and the success they achieved in their studies was transferrable.
To be a dedicated student-athlete from such a young age is rare. It was never basketball OR academics; it was always academics AND basketball. I always knew they had the work ethic and discipline to be successful student-athletes. They did it. They’re doing it.

Deborah

Sun Youth will forever be one of the most important places in my life, and I cannot overstate how grateful and appreciative I am for the organization. I can only hope to give back half as much as they have given me, although in my eyes, what they have given me is immeasurable.

Katerina

If it wasn’t for Sun Youth, I would not have continued to play in CEGEP and university. I am forever grateful for this program.

Coach Shannah Ernest

I have many fond memories with these girls and consider myself very fortunate to have been a part of their journey. I was proud of them then and continue to be very proud of them now.

This article is dedicated to the memory of Coach Les Hughes

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