By Jake Kivanc
Most people may know her as the champion of the Ryerson women’s basketball team, but what Keneca Pingue-Giles does off the court makes her much more than just an athlete.
Capping off her final term as an undergraduate criminology student, 21-year-old Pingue-Giles has spent the last four years of her life enveloped in a careful balancing act between the pages of books and sweat on the court.
Pingue-Giles, who has worked as an academic link at Pitman Hall for the last year, said that her ability to manage all of her responsibilities and still have breathing room was something that took time to develop.
“You just learn to adapt and change as time goes on,” she said. “In first year, I didn’t know anything, especially about basketball.”
Playing as one of the Rams top guards nowadays, Pingue-Giles started investing herself in basketball back in Grade 3 when she would attend an after-school program that taught the basics of the game, eventually working her way up from games of 21 to doing full on three-versus-three and five-versus-five matches.
But what most don’t know about Pingue-Giles lies behind the curtains of basketball.
Before she started playing on the hardwood, Pingue-Giles was originally in the greens. Growing up with a mixed ancestry of European and Caribbean roots, she originally started off playing soccer and moved onto to basketball at a later date.
While it could be easy to assume that Pingue-Giles bled basketball since birth, she said that the label of being “merely an athlete” is something she wants to separate herself from.
“Of course I’m an athlete, but I don’t want that to be my major title. I don’t want people to look at me and think, ‘Oh she’s just a jock.’ I want them to know about my academics and my life outside of sports.”
Pingue-Giles’ life off the court is one that’s equally impressive as her scoresheet. Not only does she hold high marks in all of her courses, but her volunteering list is extensive: soccer camps, basketball camps, even environmentally-conscious workshops for youth.
Before anything, Pingue-Giles said that her life outside of sports always comes first.
“School and volunteering are always gonna come first,” she said. “If you’re not eligible to play or if everything else is out of control, who cares how much time you’ve put in the gym? You can’t showcase it on the court without confidence in yourself.”
In the future, Pingue-Giles is thinking big, with plans to take up graduate studies at Ryerson in public administration and pursue her law degree after final graduation. She will also be taking a shot at her final year of eligibility for playing under the blue and gold banner once more. According to Pingue-Giles, what drives her is the desire to create lasting change in the world.
“I feel like I have the ability to contribute to change,” she said. “If I can affect one person’s life to carry that torch, to spark the next person and so on, that’s it. For that domino effect to happen, some has to step up to the plate first.”