By Jason Hills
July 27, 2017
For nearly a decade, Miranda Ayim has been an integral part of Canada’s senior women’s national basketball program, but the nine-year veteran may be stepping into one of her most important roles yet.
With the national team retirements of Lizanne Murphy, Tamara Tatham and Shona Thorburn this spring, Ayim’s 145 games of international experience will be invaluable.
“We look at her as a role model. When they see her, they see what it takes to be a pro and what it takes to be a two-time Olympian,” said Team Canada head coach Lisa Thomaidis. “A lot of our players coming up that are going to be part of the national team for the first time can learn a lot from her. She can share where we were, where we’ve gone and how it all applies to the direction we’re going.”
Ayim joined her Team Canada teammates this week at the Saville Community Sports Centre for Phase 3 of their training and selection camp for the upcoming 2017 FIBA Women’s AmeriCup in Buenos Aires, Argentina next month.
A top three finish at the tournament will qualify Canada for the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2018 in Spain.
The 29-year-old has played a big role in helping build the program from the ground up.
She knows what it took for the program to get through the rough times to qualifying for back-to-back Olympics in 2012 and 2016.
“My role in this transition period is to show what Canada basketball has been over the last 10 years and bring it into this new cycle of players,” said Ayim. “Whenever you can share the lessons you’ve learned, it’s helpful.”
Canada’s talent pool has never been stronger. They have up-and-coming players like Ruth Hamblin, Bridget Carleton, Shay Colley, Quinn Dornstauder, Jamie Scott and many others who are starting to make an impact on the senior national team.
Many of them just need experience at the senior level and having them learn the ropes from Ayim, who has played seven years of pro basketball in Turkey and France and is a two-time Olympian, will only make the program stronger as it continues its road to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Ayim’s game has really evolved during her time with the national program. Ayim has always been a disruptive force on the defensive side of the ball, despite being an under-sized power forward.
She’s become one of their most well-rounded players at both ends of the floor and has transformed her game to be dangerous all over the court.
“When she first started with us, she was primarily a low-post player. She was very athletic, but right-hand dominant. Now she can defend any position,” said Thomaidis. “Her shooting range has gotten deeper every single year. She’s comfortable around the three-point line. She brings so many different skills to our team.
“We’re implementing a new style of play and we feel that Miranda’s style of play will really suit our new style well.”
After a four-year standout career at Pepperdine University, Ayim never thought about life as a pro basketball player or becoming an Olympian. But basketball has led her down a road filled with many incredible basketball experiences.
A credit to Ayim’s long tenure with Team Canada has to do with her versatility. She’s willing to play any role asked of her, and she’s committed to developing her game so that she can continue to play the game at a high level.
She also embraces each chance to learn from any of her teammates.
“It’s exciting to have some youth on the team, because they bring a different perspective,” said Ayim. “You have to be open to learn and to grow and I feel I learn as much from them as they do from me.”
Competition for spots on Canada’s 2020 roster will be fierce with an infusion of young players trying to fulfill their Olympics dreams.
Ayim embraces her role as a veteran leader on the team. She’s committed to helping this younger generation of talent reach their full potential.
But no matter what role Team Canada wants her to play down the road she has every intention of playing in her third straight Olympics.
“That’s my plan,” said Ayim. “None of these opportunities were ever anticipated, but doors keep opening and I just keep stepping through them, and I’ve grateful for each opportunity.
“I’m excited about what we have in front of us. The talent in Canada is quite amazing. We’re definitely going to be contending for the podium at the Olympics.”