Tak­ing cham­pi­onship play on the road

Aca­dia Ax­e­men proud to be host­ing Fi­nal 8 men’s bas­ket­ball cham­pi­onship

Annapolis Valley Register - - SPORTS - BY KIRK STARRATT KINGSCOUN­TYNEWS.CA Kirk.starratt@kingscoun­tynews.ca

Be­ing awarded host­ing rights for the up­com­ing U SPORTS Fi­nal 8 men’s bas­ket­ball cham­pi­onship is an­other feather in the cap for Aca­dia Univer­sity.

Aca­dia hosts the event at the Sco­tia­bank Cen­tre in Hal­i­fax from March 8 to 11. Ath­let­ics and Com­mu­nity Events ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Kevin Dickie said one of the keys to hav­ing a na­tional-level univer­sity sport pro­gram is host­ing na­tional events.

“In a per­fect world, we’d like to do it in Wolfville but there aren’t enough seats in our gym,” Dickie said. “It’s nice to be able to take our show on the road. We have a strong alumni con­tin­gent in Hal­i­fax and we’ll have a lot of alumni com­ing in from across the coun­try for the event.”

Af­ter go­ing sev­eral years with­out playing host, the univer­sity has been awarded host­ing rights for sev­eral na­tional univer­sity cham­pi­onships.

In ad­di­tion to the up­com­ing Fi­nal 8 men’s bas­ket­ball cham­pi­onship, Aca­dia hosted the na­tional women’s soc­cer cham­pi­onship in 2016. The univer­sity has been awarded host­ing rights for the 2018 women’s na­tional rugby cham­pi­onship in Wolfville this fall and it will host the na­tional men’s hockey cham­pi­onship, the Univer­sity Cup, in Hal­i­fax in March of 2020. Aca­dia also hosted the na­tional football semi-fi­nal this past fall, the 2017 Uteck Bowl.

Dickie said host­ing the U SPORTS Fi­nal 8 is sig­nif­i­cant in this re­gard, as Aca­dia has re­newed its fo­cus on re­cruit­ing ma­jor events as part of the Des­ti­na­tion Aca­dia ini­tia­tive. He said Hal­i­fax is a great city in which to host an event such as the na­tional bas­ket­ball cham­pi­onship and it’s an­other event that Aca­dia is proud to have its brand as­so­ci­ated with.

Aca­dia men’s bas­ket­ball head coach Kevin Duffie said host­ing the Fi­nal 8 is a huge deal for the Ax­e­men. Get­ting a guar­an­teed chance to play on a na­tional stage is great news for the Aca­dia bas­ket­ball pro­gram.

“We have quite a his­tory at the U SPORTS, for­merly CIS, na­tional cham­pi­onships with the most ap­pear­ances of any univer­sity to date,” Duffie said.

This will be Aca­dia’s 25th ap­pear­ance in the na­tional cham­pi­onship tour­na­ment. He said it’s great for the play­ers to have this op­por­tu­nity and it’s amaz­ing to have Aca­dia’s name fea­tured promi­nently on a na­tional stage.

He said there would be some univer­sity play­ers who go through their en­tire var­sity ca­reer with­out hav­ing such an op­por­tu­nity and this fact isn’t lost on the Ax­e­men.

“They’re cer­tainly ex­cited about it for sure,” Duffie said.

He said it’s so far, so good for Aca­dia’s sea­son. They have a solid team with a lot of depth fea­tur­ing sev­eral veteran play­ers and they’ve con­tin­ued to im­prove all year tak­ing things one day at a time. Duffie said on Feb. 27 that they’re playing some of their best bas­ket­ball to date and it’s great go­ing into some of their most im­por­tant games of the year.

“We have the AUS cham­pi­onship this week­end and we want to show well there and that will help for a seed­ing at na­tion­als as well. I think we’ve had a good year, very promis­ing, and I think we’ll rep­re­sent our­selves very fine at the na­tional cham­pi­onship,” Duffie said.

He said bring­ing the na­tional cham­pi­onship home to Aca­dia and Wolfville would make a huge im­pact. It would be great to be able to do this for the school and the area. The Aca­dia Ax­e­men are three­time na­tional univer­sity bas­ket­ball cham­pi­ons, win­ning one ti­tle in the 1960s and two in the 1970s.

Na­tional rugby, hockey cham­pi­onships

Dickie said host­ing the 2018 women’s na­tional rugby cham­pi­onship in Wolfville will be sig­nif­i­cant on a num­ber of lev­els.

He said it will be great for Aca­dia’s pro­gram from a re­cruit­ing per­spec­tive. Host­ing will en­hance rugby across the An­napo­lis Val­ley, where there are al­ready strong high school pro­grams, by in­creas­ing the pro­file of the sport. Dickie said he be­lieves the im­pact will be sim­i­lar to host­ing the 2016 women’s soc­cer cham­pi­onship.

“It was full-on op­por­tu­nity for the coun­try to see Aca­dia Univer­sity, one of the nicest cam­puses and most beau­ti­ful com­mu­ni­ties in the coun­try, so it’s huge,” he said.

Dickie said be­ing awarded host­ing rights for the 2020 Univer­sity Cup is also a huge op­por­tu­nity for Aca­dia. Hav­ing a univer­sity of Aca­dia’s size host­ing the na­tional hockey cham­pi­onship is not nor­mally the case. The cam­pus has a sto­ried hockey his­tory and Dickie said he be­lieves host­ing na­tion­als is well de­served. It’s the first time Aca­dia has been given the hon­our.

“It will be good for the brand of univer­sity hockey but it will be good for our pro­gram to host it as well,” he said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.