ACHONWA…aaahooo!?!?!

February 27th, 2014 | Notre Dame (100) vs North Carolina (75) | Joyce Center-Purcell Pavilion | South Bend, IN

Uh-CHAWN-wha…t? Will not be a question of who in the basketball world, but a fascinating everyday name we Canadians are proud to follow. Natalie Achonwa is a senior basketball player at University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN. She is the first international player to suit up for the University in its 37-year history.

Not only is Achonwa in the record books with three consecutive NCAA Women's Final Four appearances, including two NCAA national championship games, she is a five time Canada Basketball Team selection. Natalie began her international training at the tender age of 14 in Hamilton, Ontario. In September of 2009, Achonwa became the youngest player to be selected for the Canadian Senior Women’s Basketball Team at the age of 16.

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Achonwa has recently competed for Canada at the 2012 Olympics in London, England. Natalie was a part of the Canadian Team that won Silver at the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship in Xalapa, Mexico.

Chris Seto of The Guelph Mercury produced an amazing intimate video and article-Natalie Achonwa’s Compelling Story - Big stage, big presence — Guelph’s Natalie Achonwa leads one of the hottest teams in U.S. women’s college basketball [Read More] 

I met Natalie at (DJ’s) David Johnson’s Basketball Clinic. Read More: [real-basketball-mentors-making-time] Although Natalie is from Guelph, Ontario she feels connected to Hamilton because she is a graduate from St. Mary’s Catholic Secondary School and trained with the former Basketball Canada’s NEDA (National Elite Development Academy) program at McMaster University.

DJ-Achonwa We planned to do a photo shoot, but unfortunately couldn’t align our calendars. Natalie informed me that UND was going to play a game at Ryerson in Toronto on December 1st, 2013. Again the timing did not work out. When Natalie told me that February 27th, 2014 would be her last regular season basketball game. All I could say is “Road Trip!”

It was her last regular home game of the season and as a senior. What better reason to take a road trip to South Bend, IN. We started out late and drove through the night. The last hour was the worst with the storm, whiting out most of Indiana. When we reached the Varsity Club Suites, we were overwhelmed with the sports memorabilia that adorned every wall of the hotel.

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After a few hours of sleep we arrived at the University of Notre Dame, almost 2 hrs before the game. It was nice to see the famous Football Notre Dame Stadium right beside Basketball Joyce Centre-Purcell Pavilion. Of course the girls needed to get a sharpie for some autographs and a little Irish spirit. There were many alumnae, the fans were animated, you could feel the oomph and the fun was just beginning.

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Can you say “Energy stimulus overload”. It's the crowd, band, cheerleaders, fans, scoreboard, music, Dance Cam, Jumbotron to the fine detail of the basketball popcorn bowls. My family was thrilled to be there, huge fans of “ACE” (Natalie's Nickname) and very grateful for the phenomenal seats.

Ambiance The coaches came out in style. Muffet McGraw and her beautiful coaching staff came out in blazing hot red to celebrate her # 1000th career game.Coaches

My job is to get great photographs. I started out on the end line, but the referees positioning seemed to be directly in front of me. When I asked a fellow photographer if I could get in close to the post, he was more than accommodating. I was able to get low and see the paint beautifully. Now it's just up to me to capture the moment. View Game Photos [Click Here]

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Natalie finished with 24 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists. Notre Dame finished the regular season with a perfect record and the second longest winning streak in University history. Natalie-Achonwa-2

Although my main focus was Natalie Achonwa (#11), her other teammates were exceptional too. Notre Dame Senior Tri Captain, Kayla McBride (#21) netted 28 points.

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ND Sophomore, Jewell Loyd (#32) was double trouble for UNC with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

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The very young University of North Carolina team was led by Tar Heel, Xylina McDaniel(#34)-18pts and Diamond DeShields(#23) with 17pts.

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It is an amazing experience to watch an NCAA game in the home venue of a team you cheer for. We have all the more reason to love The University of Notre Dame because of Natalie Achonwa. Nat said ND would love to have us and EVERYONE treated us like a lucky charm.  Remember the back of this jersey. Pronounced "uh-CHAWN-wha". Natalie, AKA "ACE" is not only a basketball player but a true motivational leader and role model for young student athletes.

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Aerial Wilson and Kaillie Hall play for Transway Bantam Girls Basketball Team in Hamilton, Ontario. They are currently in the process of trying out for the Canada Drive-Blue Star Elite AAU Travel Team [Learn More]. They had an exceptional time at The University of Notre Dame and are more ambitious today because of Natalie Achonwa to pursue their basketball dreams. Postgame-800 Let's cheer a little louder for our Canadian Athletes and support them on social media. Connect with Natalie Achonwa on Twitter https://twitter.com/NatAchon

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For more information about Natalie Achonwa: Natalie Achonwa Bio - UND.COM - University of Notre Dame  http://www.und.com/sports/w-baskbl/mtt/natalie_achonwa_713254.html http://ndwbb.com/team/players/natalie_achonwa/ Big stage, big presence — Guelph’s Natalie Achonwa leads one of the hottest teams in U.S. women’s college basketball http://www.guelphmercury.com/news-story/2793171-big-stage-big-presence-guelph-s-natalie-achonwa-leads-one-of-the-ho/ Video: Natalie Achonwa on what Notre Dame has to do to remain undefeated http://www.swishappeal.com/2014/2/23/5438058/video-notre-dame-undefeated-natalie-achonwa A Competitor's Mentality http://www.und.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/021314aab.html No. 5 Notre Dame Rolls Past Duquesne, 100-61  http://www.und.com/sports/w-baskbl/recaps/120113aaa.html Natalie Achonwa Named To Canadian Olympic Qualifying Team http://www.und.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/060512aaa.html Three Prep Women's Basketball Standouts Commit To Attend Notre Dame http://www.und.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/111309aab.html Famous Guelphites http://www.library.guelph.on.ca/archives/famous_person.cfm?id=63 Game Photos: February 27th, 2014 | Notre Dame (100) vs North Carolina (75) | Joyce Center-Purcell Pavilion | South Bend, IN [Click Here] Natalie Achonwa ____________________________________________________________________________________________ Social Media Please like us on facebook, follow us on twitter and comment on our photographs/design on our blog. We always update on { tumblr blog | flickr photostream | YouTube channel | Pinterest Boards | Google+  } too! Aerial Promotions is now on Instagram  Instagram ____________________________________________________________________________________________ DOWNLOAD IMAGES* © Aerial Promotions 1997-2013 *Read AP Terms & Conditions Before Download…click here *Read AP Photographic Licensing Before Download…click here  ____________________________________________________________________________________________ Why...Because We CARE! It is part of AP mission to give back to sport & the developing athletes as a volunteer in the local community (...more) Images available now at www.Present it Photo.com _RLW0205

Toronto Rock 1999 NLL Champions on Film

In 1999, I was just finishing up my time as the Ontario Lacrosse Marketing Director to move out west to Whistler, BC. I had the privilege to photograph the Toronto Rock in its inaugural season & first NLL Championship Title.

“The Toronto Rock finish the season with a perfect home record, going a combined 8-0 (regular season and playoffs) after a 13-10 win over the Rochester Knighthawks in the Championship Game before a sellout crowd of 15,691 in Maple Leaf Gardens. The game is televised throughout Canada by CTV SportsNet, and in the United States on ESPN2.” From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (This post is dedicated to  my late friend Les Bartley)

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