With each deep breath came a tear. Every applause from the crowd brought back a memory.
As Ceejay Nofuente stood on the floor of the Gordon Wragg Student Centre Saturday night and listened to head coach Ajay Sharma tell stories about their time together, she couldn't contain her emotions.
Nofuente spent much of her five-year career poised and even-keeled, a picture of determination and drive regardless of her circumstances. But when she stood at the podium, in front of her family, team and fans, her stoic demeanour dissolved.
"There's never a way to prepare for something like this. You never know what's going to come out," Nofuente said. "Once [Ajay] became emotional, I knew I wouldn't stand a chance."
Nofuente spent plenty of time thanking others, little speaking about herself. What she did say during the ceremony cementing her legacy focused on the institution that gave her a second family and a chance to fulfill her dream.
"To my Humber family, I thank you guys," she said. "You made my family your family. Being around you every day made me a better person.
"I couldn't imagine being in any other place than here at Humber."
Among those on hand for the ceremony was Humber director of athletics and recreation Ray Chateau.
"She's one of our most dedicated, disciplined and devoted players. She is an extraordinary talent," Chateau said. "Playing for our senior national team put the CCAA on the map. She's opened the door for basketball players at every level."
As one of the most decorated student-athletes in Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) history, Nofuente's brilliant career is coming to a close. Her career accolades are second to none, and she is at the top of every major statistical category at Humber College. With the 2018 OCAA women's basketball championships being hosted by Humber March 2 to 4, it is almost guaranteed Nofuente will take one last moment to pause and reflect, as the memories come flooding in. And there might be more tears.
"To know that my name will hang in the rafters with Humber's very best truly is remarkable," she said. "It's an honour."