On the hardwood it was so much fun.
Off the court, it was the worst time of his life.
Ryan Harnett had a lot of fun times helping the Dalhousie Tigers win a third-straight Atlantic University Sport varsity men’s basketball championship earlier this year.
It was a championship run that put Dalhousie in the national spotlight as the Tigers went on to win a bronze medal at the 2017 U Sports national varsity men’s basketball championship event.
It was a season to remember for exploits on the basketball court for the six-foot-one guard, but it proved to be one of the most challenging because he had to deal with the death of his dad, Paul Harnett, who died while the Tigers were participating in the national tournament.
Harnett didn’t travel with the Tigers to the national tournament, choosing instead to return to Corner Brook to be near family and friends as he wrestled with the death of his dad.
“Obviously, it was really tough. It was the toughest time of my life,” Harnett said of the void left in his life. “It was tough to miss that, but it should make me hungrier to make it back to the nationals this year.”
Harnett graduated from Dalhousie’s business management program in the spring, but he added a disability management certificate to his degree to ensure he could play a fifth and final season with the Tigers.
The team is looking good in the early going as the drive for four appears to be the focus on this year’s edition, which has won top honours at tournaments hosted by both Concordia University and Queen’s University in exhibition games used to prepare the new group for the regular season that kicks off next month.
Four starters from last year’s squad have since graduated from Dal and seven new rookies are wearing the Tigers jersey for the first time, but Harnett believes his team has what it takes to win a fourth-straight championship, with several returnees expected to take their game to another level again this season.
“We’re looking to win four in a row,” he said. “Having a good mix between the veterans and the young guys together should be a good formula for success this year.”