Esquimalt High's Xenia Benita Koop

German high school student excels on basketball court

At six-foot-four-inches tall, 16-year-old Xenia Knoop towers over most people in her grade.

At six-foot-four-inches tall, 16-year-old Xenia Knoop towers over most people in her grade.

Now, the Grade 11 student is soaring to new heights, finding success as post with Esquimalt High School’s senior girls’ basketball team — a sport she didn’t know how to play eight months ago.

Knoop, originally from Germany, came to Victoria to study English as part of Esquimalt High’s international program in August.

Though she played handball in Germany for the last 10 years, Knoop had never picked up a basketball prior to coming to Canada.

Now, she’s finding her groove on the court, alongside her 12 teammates, and is able to pick up skills and move around the court with the utmost of ease, despite her height.

“In my (physical education) classes my teacher always said I should play basketball because I’m so tall,” Knoop said, adding her mother stands five-feet-11-inches tall and her father at six-foot-six.

“I like everything, the whole game.”

She has become dedicated to the sport, not missing any practices or games since the season started. She comes in early for practice to run through the drills as well.

Knoop has averaged roughly 20 points a game for the senior team, lifting them to a record of 4-1 on the season.

Senior girls’ basketball head coach Angela Coutts said Knoop has the potential to play at a “very high level.”

“She’s very lovely and takes instruction very well. She’s great to coach. She’s quick to pick up the skills and drills and a lot of that has to do with her European handball,” Coutts said. “Normally 6’4 players can’t move as well as she can on the court and so that’s been a real asset.”

Other schools are taking notice of Knoop’s height as well. Most recently, a scout from a B.C. university was on hand to watch the team practice.

While she is set to return to Germany at the end of the school year, Knoop said she would consider taking her skills to the next level if the right opportunity came along.

“If I had the opportunity to stay here, then I would,” she said.