Trailblazers seldom take the route most travelled. They find ways to circumvent the norms to set new standards and reach new heights, to become role models for generations to follow.

It is true with the latest unique addition to the Toronto sports scene: 27-year-old Nicki Gross, named Friday as an assistant coach for basketball development with the Toronto Raptors’ D-League affiliate, Raptors 905, and just the third woman in an assistant role in league history.

She was not a gym rat, nor a basketball star. She was a soccer player at Seton Hall who was a basketball fan; a men’s basketball manager during grad school years at Monmouth College; an intern at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas; assistant video co-ordinator of the D-League’s Bakersfield Jam; video co-ordinator of the Iowa Energy in the same league, promoted to assistant coach with the Energy last season; and finally, added to the 905 staff by head coach Jerry Stackhouse.

“It’s a strange path, but it’s been fulfilling,” she said after the team went through an almost four-hour workout at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday.

Read the full article here: Raptors 905 natural fit for trailblazer Nicki Gross