U of O athlete was recognized as one of the top eight U Sports All-Canadian athletes
In 2020, Brigitte Lefebvre-Okankwu graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences from the University of Ottawa, and is now pursuing a Master’s degree in psychology.
She is also a power forward for the U of O’s women’s basketball team.
“I have always been in the sports world,” explained the star athlete.
Team sports were a huge focus throughout her upbringing. Lefebvre-Okankwu began her athletic career playing soccer at a competitive level until her senior year of high school, when she switched to basketball and she has not looked back since.
“I fell in love with the speed of the sport and the fact that I was able to score more,” said Lefebvre-Okankwu.
Inspired by WNBA player Candace Parker and her teammates, falling in love with the high speed of basketball was easy.
Basketball has led the athlete from Gatineau, Qc, to countries all over the world, including Haiti and Togo.
In 2018 and again in 2019, Lefebvre-Okankwu and the Gee-Gees women’s basketball team supported a non-profit organization in building basketball courts in Haiti and Togo.
“It’s just amazing to see where basketball can lead you and how sports can connect you to everyone.”
Lefebvre-Okankwu will continue her journey to Australia in the summer, where she has signed her second professional contract.
Aside from her love for the sport, basketball has given Brigitte a sense of teamwork, family, and various opportunities to travel and meet others with the same passion.
For student-athletes, the balance between academics and athletics can be challenging to achieve. Lefebvre-Okankwu has not only excelled on the basketball court, but she has also maintained a strong academic performance, earning her recognition as one of the top eight U Sports All-Canadian athletes.
Winning the bronze medal at nationals in 2019 was a career milestone for the athlete as the team was down by 19 at the half and came back to win the game.
The 2021-22 season has been huge for her. Lefebvre-Okankwu recently became the third woman in program history to accomplish scoring 1000 points and 500 rebounds. In addition, she was named the recipient of the 2021 Sylvia Sweeney Award and was named a First Team All-Canadian.
Adding to the list of accomplishments this season, she was also named the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) East MVP and received the OUA East Joy Bellinger Award.
As a woman in a sport generally dominated by male athletes, Lefebvre-Okankwu is excited to see the increased promotion in women’s basketball and hopes for even more accessibility in the future.
When asked about what advice the basketball star would give to up-and-coming athletes, she explained to never give up and to never be afraid to ask for help, as it is determination and teamwork that will allow one to reach their goals.