By Jessica Reyes
R.J. Ramirez first bounced a basketball when he was five.
The 21-year-old, who was Humber’s 2014 basketball Rookie of the Year, wants to play pro for the Philippine Basketball Association.
The St. Catharines-born star moved to Toronto with his family, who emigrated to Canada from the Philippines, when he was chosen to represent Humber on the court.
Ramirez was hoping to get accepted to a four-year business university program but did not meet the academic requirements.
He chose Humber because of its pedigree of winning.
Ramirez is now in his final year at Humber studying the two-year tourism management program because he enjoys traveling and exploring around the world.
The rookie of the year award he snagged last year honours the athlete who has shown commitment and dedication on the court and in the classrooms.
“I was kind of shocked, I’ve never felt this way before. It was a big accomplishment for me,” Ramirez said.
“In the beginning of the year I was telling myself that I would get this reward, but I didn’t think it would actually come true,” he said.
Ramirez has been focused on his basketball career. His only diversions are hanging out with friends and family, and working on his cobra pose.
“I just started doing yoga and I actually like it,” said Ramirez. “It’s benefiting me. I do yoga for personal reasons, because I’m not flexible.”
Men’s varsity basketball coach Shawn Collins has been leading the Hawks to championships for 10 years.
Collins says Ramirez is a big part of why the team is successful.
“R.J. was chosen because, coming in as a first year player at Humber with a strong tradition of basketball, its not easy to have a level of success and fit in. He was able to do all of that and move forward,” Collins said.
Mathew Bukovec, small forward, says being on a team with Ramirez has been a great experience so far and has created a closer bond off the court.
“R.J. is a very talented scoring point guard. He makes the right reads and is playing really well this season,” Bukovec said.
Ramirez plans to continue playing basketball after graduating this April. He hopes that in a few years he will be playing professional basketball in the Philippines where his parents are from.
Collins says that being a professional basketball player takes a lot of time and energy but Ramirez has the drive and motivation.
“He loves the game, he has the willingness to work hard and whatever he needs to do to be successful,” Collins said.
Collins says he is willing to help Ramirez achieve his dream job.
“It takes a lot of time and energy to get to that level,” he said. “And we’re more than willing to help him get there and make his goal a possibility.”