Basketball: Unbowed by setbacks, Loiter knows anything is possible with hard work, determination

Ariel Loiter (right) is Singapore's first team sport athlete to feature in the NCAA Division 1. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MARY GRYGIER

SINGAPORE - Her debut season in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Patriot League may not have gone according to plan but for Ariel Loiter remains upbeat about being a role model for young female athletes.

She said: "Any goal is possible to achieve with hard work and determination. Believe in yourself and pursue your dreams with passion."

The 18-year-old Colgate University freshman is Singapore's first team sport athlete to feature in the NCAA Division 1, but the coronavirus has presented multiple challenges to the Colgate Raiders guard.

The national cager played in all nine games, averaging 20 minutes, 3.3 points on a 26.7 per cent field goal conversion rate and 1.9 rebounds per game, before her team had to pull out of the competition after seven players suffered season-ending injuries. The Raiders won their first game, but lost their next eight as they finished second from bottom.

Loiter, whose father is Israeli and mother is Singaporean, said: "Considering all that our team had to handle this year, I don't believe our playing record reflects at all the level of our team.

"I underestimated the shift from high school basketball to college, especially with the implications of Covid on the lack of transition period.

"The adjustments and learning process along with understanding my role and boundaries had to take place in season and games instead of the summer and pre-season.

"I still feel that I have made important strides this past season both as a point guard as well as my defensive game, and I am confident my stats line will reflect my abilities a lot better in the coming season."

Restrictions meant isolation for weeks before individual workouts began in September, and team training started only in November.

Due to the pandemic and their injuries, the Raiders will be focusing on training and recovery for the injured players and not participate in any post-season tournaments this year.

Regardless, Raiders coach William Cleary gave Loiter a ringing endorsement, and said: "Ari had some great moments this term to build on. Her strengths are her knowledge and work ethic, and talent to shoot and get to the basket.

"Ari is learning to play more free, to take chances and to trust her ability to make plays. Like all freshmen, they want to be perfect. Ari is learning it is fine to make mistakes and she has exactly what it takes to be a great basketball player in this league and at the Division I level."

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