9 provinces, 216 athletes, 55 coaches and support staff, and countless supporters have all gathered in Regina, Saskatchewan this week for the 2017 Boy’s and Girl’s National Championships. These numbers clearly demonstrate how basketball, and any other sport for that matter, has the power to form a community.
It’s already the fifth day of competition and I am still amazed by the sheer number of people supporting each province. People have travelled from coast to coast to support their athletes all week long. During breaks, little brothers and sisters have been doing laps around the gym with their province’s flag in an effort to keep the crowds loud and players motivated. One child has even sat on his older brother’s bench when they are losing to cheer on the team, and when they are winning he is cheering from the stands.
The National Championships is only a stepping stone into Canada’s national team program. Athletes have been brought together to form teams from different corners of their province. Leading up to the tournament countless hours were devoted to the team, not only by the coaches and players, but the parents of the athletes. All the nights driving to and from different gyms for tryouts, practices, games, and tournaments, parents have been there every step of the way. It becomes normal for families to spend their long weekends away at tournaments with the rest of their basketball family. They have been travelling to other cities together, and now to another province.
Playing in a team sport not only teaches athletes valuable social skills, it also builds friendships, character and life skills. This week teams were brought together in Regina, Saskatchewan for Nationals, but players and their families will be left with lifelong friendships that were built leading up to and during the tournament. Ultimately, they will all create memories that will last a lifetime.
This phenomenon is all due to our favourite sport, basketball!
Elizabeth Corey is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Sport Management at the University of Ottawa. She is the Student Domestic Development Coordinator at Canada Basketball, and is the Director of Events for the University of Ottawa Sports Business Club.