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Carleton Ravens' Catherine Traer during the second half of quarter-final action at the U Sports Women's Basketball Final 8 Championship at the CARSA Performance Gym in Victoria, B.C., on March 9, 2017.

CHAD HIPOLITO/The Canadian Press

Catherine Traer comes to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on a winning note – and with some homework.

The fifth-year grad student scored 21 points and added 10 rebounds as the Carleton Ravens capped an undefeated season by defeating Saskatchewan 69-48 in the U Sports women’s basketball championship game on March 11. Traer was named Carleton’s player of the game as well as to the championship all-star team.

The 23-year-old from Chelsea, Que., is slated to graduate in April. Prior to the games, she interned at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Ottawa.

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“It’s great to end on a practical side,” said Traer, who is working on her master’s in political science.

Clearly skilled at time management, Traer juggled the demands of her studies, being a teacher’s assistant, and basketball.

“To be able to have somewhat of a good resume that doesn’t just have basketball experience was something that was really important to me,” she said. “Because I have a lot of friends working in politics, working in the government and building their careers. I didn’t want to be left behind just because I was playing basketball so I’m really proud that I was able to do a lot of it. But obviously it was really hard. A lot of sleepless nights working on assignments and then early mornings going to work or going to school.

“But I’m really happy I was able to do it and I think anybody can do it. It’s not that hard. If you’re doing something you love, it makes it a lot easier. In the end, it was all worth it, for sure.”

Her studies took her to South Africa last May for a field research course on migration. Down the line, she hopes to get a job that involves immigration, refugee issues and international security.

“For now I think I’m just going to focus on basketball,” she said.

A pro basketball career has always been a dream so the day job may be put on hold for a while. First up is one final school paper that needs to be finished during the Commonwealth Games.

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In Australia, Traer will team up with Saskatchewan’s Summer Masikewich, who led the Huskies with 19 points in the U Sports final.

Traer represented Canada at the 2017 World University Games in Taiwan and the U-24 Four Nations tournament in Tokyo that preceded it. She has also taken part in the Francophone Games.

The 6-foot-1 forward knows the Commonwealth Games basketball competition, which runs April 5 to 15, will be her stiffest test to date.

The Canadian women are in Pool A with Australia, England and Mozambique. Pool B consists of New Zealand, Jamaica, India and Malaysia.

Canada opens against England on April 6 at Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre.

The Canadian men are in Pool A with Australia, Nigeria and New Zealand, and open on April 6 against Australia at Cairns Convention Centre. The men’s Pool B is made up of England, Cameroon, India and Scotland.

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In both competitions, all four countries from Pool A – the so-called power pool – will advance along with the top two from Pool B. The top two in Pool A will get byes to the semi-final with the remaining four teams meeting in quarter-finals to decide who joins them.

Traer spent the past two seasons at Carleton after transferring from the University of Ottawa to pursue her postgraduate studies. It was a bold move, considering Traer comes from a family with deep Gee-Gee roots.

Father Rick, a former Basketball Canada executive director, played for Ottawa and was an assistant coach. Mother Francine taught in the education faculty there. Brother Zach was a walk-on with the Gee-Gees men’s team and served as a colour commentator on the team this season. Ottawa basketball games were a weekly tradition for the family.

“My brother and I literally grew up in that gym,” Catherine Traer said .

But she says her father has adjusted to her switch to rival Carleton.

“My dad ended up wearing a Carleton hoodie at nationals. That was huge for him. That was the first time in two years.”

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