When it comes to the game of life, 14-year-old Kassandra Vail knows how to slam-dunk. The Bedford, N.S. teen excels at everything she puts her mind to and helps others along the way.

The Halifax Hurricanes, a team in the National Basketball Legaue of Canada, is honouring youth in its community. Head coach Mike Leslie says Kassandra was an ideal candidate for the Hurricanes Hero award.

“It’s always important for anybody to understand what their passion is. If young people can find that early on it will lead to a lot of success, both for them and those who are around them,” says Leslie.

Kassandra is a strong student, with an academic average of 98.5. She has received the award of excellence in science, athletics, and band at her school, Rocky Lake Junior High.

“I love doing homework, that’s probably not something every kid would say,” says Kassandra.

When Kassandra’s not in the classroom, she’s training at her local dojang. The Grade 9 student is passionate about martial arts and holds a black belt in taekwondo. She competes regularly and has a room filled with trophies to show for it.

Kassandra’s family say they knew from a young age that her dedication was unique.

“You don’t need to know how to do something to recognize when someone is doing something amazing. When I watch her fight… I don’t have a clue how to do what she’s doing, but I recognize the effort that goes in to it and it really is something amazing to watch,” says Stephen Vail, Kassandra’s father.

Kassandra also volunteers several times a week at the dojang, working with and encouraging the younger students.

“Every student, whether in academics or sports, they all have their own needs that you need to focus on,” says Kassandra. “It doesn’t matter what age you are, you can still do it. It doesn’t matter if you are eight, if you are 14, if you are 20, if you want to do it, then do it.”

In addition to her many talents, Kassandra has a kind heart. This winter, she used savings from her part-time job to put together survival packages for individuals living on the streets. Kassandra and her mother began to distribute the packages as the weather got colder and continue to work together on the project.

“It makes me feel good that I can help others,” says Kassandra. “Just seeing the smile on their faces, it just makes my day; it makes me feel so good.”

While Kassandra’s many achievements are remarkable, she insists she is still just a normal teen. However, it is clear this all-star has a bright future ahead of her.

Congratulations Kassandra, our Hurricanes Hero.