Published on October 24, 2013
Grenfell Warriors' Mark Strickand carries the ball up the floor during a scrimmage against the team's female counterparts at the Pepsi Studio on Wednesday night.
— Star photo by Chris Quigley
Published on October 24, 2013
Grenfell Warriors' Chantal Rochon looks around to make a pass during the scrimmage game.
CORNER BROOK Living next to Frank Foo, it’s hard to ignore the lure of basketball.
Mark Strickland grew up with the local hoops coach/enthusiast as his neighbour and credited that close proximity with sparking his initial interest in the game.
“I liked everything about it,” he said. “It’s a great sport.”
Strickland and his Grenfell Campus Warriors men’s basketball teammates will be in action this weekend in Truro, N.S. for the Atlantic Colleges Athletic Association (ACAA) pre-season tip-off tournament at the Dalhousie Agricultural College.
The 21-year-old Corner Brook native partook in the sport all the way up through school, before joining a Grenfell Warriors team that played in the local senior men’s league during his first year at the university. He’s now in his fourth year.
It wasn’t exactly a basketball program back then, but the following season Jonathan Snow came aboard as campus wellness coordinator and was instrumental in helping it become so.
“The program became a lot better,” Strickland said.
Last year, the university sent teams to the ACAA tip-off event for the first time ever. Strickland and the men’s team were winless in four games, but the experience was still valuable.
“We learned it’s a completely different level of competition out there,” he said.
This time around the Warriors have several key additions to the club that Strickland believes could help swing a score or two in their favour, former Memorial University of Newfoundland Sea-Hawk Michael Quigley and Mark Tavenor, particularly.
“This team is stronger, we should match up better,” Strickland said. “I think we should be able to get a couple of wins ... I’d love to see that happen.”
The lady Warriors were also held without a victory in last year’s ACAA tournament, going 0-3 during that weekend.
Of course, there wouldn’t have been a team at all without the efforts of Chantal Rochon, who was the catalyst in bringing women’s basketball back to Grenfell.
Coming to the university from Clarenville, Rochon was disappointed to find no women’s basketball program at Grenfell during her first year, but figured there really wasn’t much she could do about it.
In her second year, that attitude changed. And then so did the situation.
“I got in contact with the right people at student services,” she recalled. “We had tryouts and ever since then we had a team.”
Rochon, 20, didn’t begin playing basketball until she was in Grade 6.
“I was a late bloomer,” she said.
She tried plenty of sports, but basketball was the only thing that ever stuck with her.
“I just liked the whole team aspect,” she said.
Which explains why she enjoyed last year’s road trip so well, even if on-court success was hard to come by.
“It was one of the best team-building experiences ever,” she said. “It was probably the highlight of my whole Grenfell year last year.”
More team-building exercises are planned for this weekend, but the best way to boost spirits might simply be a few solid performances on the floor.
“The team was good last year, but we’re probably just as good now as the team was last year and it’s only a month in,” Rochon said. “I have high expectations for this team.”
Both Grenfell squads departed the province on Thursday and will play tournament games tonight, Saturday and Sunday.