Meet Kissi’s Kids, and yes­ter­day’s Buck­et­heads

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

Eu­ge­nie Bouchard has “Ge­nie’s Army,” TFC the “Red Patch Boys”, the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers have the “Melon­heads” and 25 years ago, the Brock Badgers had the “Brock Buck­et­heads.”

The “Bucket Bri­gade” was some 300 strong and in­cluded stu­dents, f ac­ulty, staff, com­mu­nity and the Brock Pres­i­dent, Terry White.

When bas­ket­ball coach Ken Mur­ray took his tal­ented 1991-1992 team — which in­cluded First Team al­lCana­di­ans Dave Pic­ton, Gord Wood, and Sec­ond Team all-Cana­dian Brian Ble­ich to Hal­i­fax — the “Bucket Bri­gade” fol­lowed.

Their pres­ence added fun to the fan frenzy at The Hal­i­fax Metro Cen­tre.

As the clock ticked down in the ti­tle tilt, the “Bucket Bri­gade” stood, loud and proud in cel­e­bra­tion, as Brock de­feated home­town favourite St. Mary’s 77-71.

“Buck­et­head bed­lam” broke out on the court. Brock had just cap­tured its first CIS ti­tle.

Ear­lier this month, Brock celebrated Mur­ray and mem­bers of the 1991-1992 cham­pi­onship team.

It was “Retro” night at the Bob Davis Gym. “Replica buck­ets” were in the house.

The “Bud­we­sier Buck­et­heads” are long gone but the fan sup­port re­mains loud and proud for all things Brock.

Badgers A.D. Neil Lums­den (for­mer Ot­tawa Gee-Gee) re­mem­bers 20,000 fans at the an­nual Panda Bowl and 60,000 fans at Clarke/ Com­mon­wealth Sta­dium.

“Fans make a huge dif­fer­ence,” said the 1975 Vanier Cup cham­pion and four-time Grey Cup Cham­pion.

Fourth-year Bad­ger coach Charles Kissi, a McMaster alum, agrees.

“We went un­de­feated at home for the first time in 25 years this sea­son and al­most ex­clu­sively I give credit to our fans,” said Kissi.

“Our guys thrive off that ex­cite­ment.”

On game day, Brock’s Bob Davis Gym­na­sium is a sea of red — red faced fans — bod­ies wrapped in red, wear­ing T-shirts that read, “We R Ready.”

Burlington Nel­son High School grad­u­ate, se­nior for­ward, Trevor Thompson, loves the en­vi­ron­ment.

“The at­mos­phere is amaz­ing on game day,” said the MBA stu­dent. “The fans give us lots of en­ergy and a con­fi­dence boost. It makes you hungry and you don’t want to dis­ap­point.”

And Thompson doesn’t want to dis­ap­point coach Kissi ei­ther.

“When you play for a coach that you re­ally want to win for and you get to see first hand how hard he works, it can carry a team a long way and, hope­fully, it will con­tinue.”

Coach Kissi is a win­ner. Twice he played in the na­tional fi­nals for McMaster. At Mac, he won the Liam Stevens Award pre­sented to a player who ex­em­pli­fies a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude and de­ter­mi­na­tion.

Kissi’s team is pep­pered with lo­cal tal­ent.

“The high school and club coaches (in Hamil­ton, Burlington, Ni­a­gara) do an ex­cel­lent job pre­par­ing these young men for the next level.”

Be­sides Nel­son’s Trevor Thompson, Kissi has Sher­wood’s Mo Is­mail and Car­di­nal New­man’s Tyler Brown in the Badgers sta­ble.

“Each guy is a spe­cial part of our build­ing process — Trevor: toughness and ma­tu­rity; Mo: shoot­ing; and Tyler at point guard — has brought us to na­tional rank­ing,” said the Badgers bench boss.

The 35-year-old Kissi is proud of the progress his young men have made un­der his tute­lage.

In Kissi’s first year, the Badgers fin­ished 4-18. This year, “Kissi’s kids” not only fin­ished 15-4, but are ranked fifth na­tion­ally.

“This has been our best reg­u­lar sea­son yet and we are hop­ing to make the play­off run that takes us to the na­tional tour­na­ment,” said Kissi.

The Badgers will host U of T at 2 p.m. Satur­day at the Bob Davis Gym in the OUA quar­ter fi­nals.

The win­ner will travel to Ot­tawa to face the No. 1 ranked Carleton Ravens.

Ce­celia Carter Smith is a for­mer four-time Cana­dian cham­pion and world record holder in track and a mem­ber of the Hamil­ton Gallery of Dis­tinc­tion and the Hamil­ton Sports Hall of Fame.

BROCK ATH­LET­ICS PHOTO

Car­di­nal New­man grad, Tyler Brown, is one of three play­ers on the fifth-ranked Brock Badgers from the Hamil­ton/Burlington area.

BROCK UNIVER­SITY

CHCH Tele­vi­sion re­porter, Paul Hen­drick, wears the head­gear made fa­mous by the Brock Buck­et­heads, a group of fans who helped push the Badgers men’s bas­ket­ball team to a na­tional cham­pi­onship in 1992.

CE­CELIA CARTER SMITH

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