Meet Kissi’s Kids, and yesterday’s Bucketheads
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.
Cardinal Newman grad, Tyler Brown, is one of three players on the fifth-ranked Brock Badgers from the Hamilton/Burlington area.
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