Photo by Alex D'Addese

Women's basketball welcomes five recruits for 2019-20

By Jessica Pincente

TORONTO — The Ryerson Rams women’s basketball team has officially released their five-player 2019-20 recruiting class. 

After earning a fifth-place finish at last year’s U SPORTS Final 8 National Championship, the Rams are looking to hit the ground running this year with a revamped roster. The loss of three key graduating seniors will certainly be felt on and off the court in 2019, but a strong five-player recruiting class will fill in the gaps and afford the Rams an opportunity to return to the top of the OUA. 

The team is set to welcome first-year players Chelsea Arruda, Sarai Bailey, Taite Cleland, and Ayden Kristmanson, as well as Canada West transfer Kyia Giles to the program. 

Ryerson head coach Carly Clarke believes the group will bring many positive traits to the team, specifically highlighting their work ethic and compete level. 

“We are very pleased with the character and compete level our incoming first-year players bring to our program,” says Clarke. “Along with their commitment on the court, they are all strong students who will also have a positive impact on Ryerson and our surrounding community. To add a transfer of Kyia's calibre to this class is an added bonus."

The full list of recruits can be found below. 

2019-20 Recruiting Class 

Taite Cleland — Guard — Ancaster, Ont. 

Lincoln Prep’s Taite Cleland is the first addition to the Rams’ 2019 recruiting class. Cleland is a three-time JUEL All-Star and is set to join the Rams after winning the 2019 league championship with the Scarborough Lady Blues. 

“Taite is a skilled shooter with a high compete level,” says Clarke. “She has demonstrated a consistent commitment and desire to improve, and a work ethic that fits our program well."

A multi-sport athlete in high school, Cleland graduated from St. Mary in Pickering. During her time at the school, Cleland collected multiple city championships in badminton, volleyball, basketball, and ultimate frisbee; she has two OFSAA medals — a bronze in basketball (2017) and a gold in volleyball (2018), and was recently named MVP of the school’s ultimate frisbee team. She is also a four-time honour roll student. 

Cleland will study Criminology at Ryerson, stating she chose to attend the university because of the team’s philosophy and drive to succeed.

“I have a high level of respect for the coaching staff,” says Cleland. “Not only are they decorated, but they are good people with a strong desire to win. I am confident they can help me grow both as an athlete and on a personal level.”

Sarai Bailey — Guard — Toronto, Ont. 

A Toronto, Ont. native, Sarai Bailey is set to make her debut in the blue and gold after playing for Central Tech Prep last season. The point guard spent time with ‘A’ Game Basketball in 2018 and Durham Elite Prep in 2017. 

“Sarai is a well-rounded offensive guard,” says Clarke. “She has a knack for creating, both to score and to find her teammates. Learning from a veteran guard like Hayley Robertson will be great for her growth and development this season."

Rounding out her playing experience, Bailey cracked the Ontario U17 squad back in 2017. She self-describes as an energetic player and a leader both on and off the court. 

A four-time honour roll student at Central Tech, Bailey will enter Ryerson’s Biomedical Sciences program in September. She says she chose Ryerson because the school offers her a chance to excel as a student-athlete in a city close to home. 

“Ryerson has a very reputable education and basketball program that I believe will help me grow both as a person and basketball player,” says Bailey. “I’m from Toronto and I’m really excited for my family and friends to come watch and support me throughout my years here.”

Ayden Kristmanson — Guard — Whistler, B.C.

British Columbia native Ayden Kristmanson is the third addition to the Rams’ 2019-20 recruiting class. She spent the 2018 season with VK Basketball, previously playing with B.C. United (2017) and B.C.’s provincial team (2015). 

"Ayden comes from a strong basketball family and is a highly motivated and character player,” says Clarke. “We look forward to her positivity and work ethic impacting our program on and off the court."

Kristmanson graduated from Whistler Secondary School where she played basketball for five years. The shooting guard was named a North Shore All-Star in 2019 and a Second-Team All-Star in 2018, helping lead the school to four appearances in the provincial championship.

Kristmanson is set to enter Ryerson’s Architectural Science program in the fall. 

“It has the perfect balance between athletics and academics,” says Kristmanson on why she chose to attend the university. “Ryerson has one of the top Architectural Science programs in the country, as well as a high calibre basketball program. It is the perfect fit for me and my goals.”

Chelsea Arruda — Forward — Vaughan, Ont. 

Chelsea Arruda is set to join the Rams after spending the 2018-19 season with Bill Crothers Prep. From 2016 to 2018, she played with BecomeOne, a team dedicated to providing opportunities to young female athletes. Arruda has also played with Vaughan Prep (2017-2018) and Canada Elite (2015-2016). 

Arruda was previously named an Ontario Basketball Association (OBA) All-Star and self-describes as a “strong defender with good court division”. 

"Coming from a well-coached team at Bill Crothers, Chelsea has shown steady improvement over the past season,” notes Coach Clarke. “She will add depth and compete level to our forward position."

Arruda attended Bill Crothers Secondary School in Markham and graduated as an Ontario Scholar. She is set to enter Ryerson’s Biomedical Sciences program in the fall. 

Arruda says she chose to attend Ryerson because of the opportunities afforded to her by the basketball program and the university. 

“I chose Ryerson because of the opportunity to play with an amazing coaching staff while getting to study in the heart of the city,” says Arruda. 

Kyia Giles — Guard — Winnipeg, MB.

Sister of former Rams superstar Keneca Pingue-Giles, Kyia Giles is set to transfer to Ryerson after spending the last three years at the University of Regina.

"We are excited to add another member of Pingue-Giles to the Ramily,” says Clarke. “Kyia has demonstrated the ability to be an impact player at the U SPORTS level.”

The Manitoba native has played in the Canada West finals for the last three years, earning a silver medal in 2017 and 2019 while taking home the championship in 2018. She has also competed in the U SPORTS Final 8 National Championships in three consecutive seasons, taking home a national bronze in 2018. 

Last season, Giles averaged 20 minutes per game while contributing 5.8 points, 1.9 assists, and 1.3 steals on 33.6 percent shooting. Her sophomore season was her best at the U SPORTS level so far; Giles racked up 241 points (8.9 per game) in 27 regular-season contests. 

Giles will sit out the 2019-20 season due to her status as a transfer, but Clarke says she is thrilled to add Giles to the team’s 2020-21 lineup. 

“Her competitiveness and athleticism will positively impact our team on both ends of the floor,” says Clarke.

Giles is set to study Politics and Governance at Ryerson. 


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