When the Thunderbirds hit the court on October 4th they'll be under the scrutiny of not only the opposing team's basketball coach and its players, but also representatives of the OUA; and Algoma University is hoping the community will come out to cheer them on. Accepted into the OUA officially for the 2013/2014 season, this is an evaluation year for Algoma and delegates will be on hand to see if the Thunderbirds meet their criteria.
"The OUA offers the highest level of amateur sport in Canada, and while we know we're competitive on the court, we now have to show them that we have the fan base and can manage the game properly," said Thomas Cory, head coach of the Thunderbirds men's basketball team. "There is a big checklist of items we'll be scored on, from seating capacity and fan experience to our table staff and a review of game statistics compilations, basically to ensure that the overall game and fan experience is reflective of OAU standards."
Cory is hoping that the community will come out to show the OUA that the Thunderbirds have a fan base, and to gain some new fans too. To maximize attendance, all of the local elementary and high school basketball teams have been invited, and admission will be free for these games.
"Who wouldn't want to see our own Jovain Wilson, the Canadian College Player of the year, on the court in his last year here?" Cory added. "And the University of Windsor has Philip Lien, from the national team, on their roster. It's going to make for some great basketball and a fun evening for fans."
The women tip off at 6pm on Thursday, October 4, in their game against Laurentian, and the men hit the court at 8pm facing Windsor. On Friday, October 5, again at 6pm, the women host McMaster University.
"We're pumped about these games and want to impress the OUA with our pride and spirit," commented Cory. "One lucky Algoma student who comes dressed up and ready to cheer can win a $500 gift card, and there are great team Spirit Awards valued at $50 per person too."
"Building excitement in the community for our games also helps our recruiting. We emphasize the academic benefits of a smaller university, but it also helps if we can show players that they'll really get the chance to shine, and feel the support of the university and the community," said Dr. Richard Myers, President Algoma University. "That'll help us attract great players, and that'll only improve the entertainment value of games for the community - it's win-win."
According to Cory, when Algoma University was part of the OCAA, many top university-bound players wouldn't even consider Algoma, but the OUA changed that: "Now we can talk to any player, and if we hear 'Algoma who?' all we have to say is 'OUA,' and we're in the conversation. Then we can sell them on the big education they can get here in addition to the athletic benefits."
OUA schools are required to offer at least six sports with gender equity, which meant Algoma had to add six more teams to their existing men's and women's basketball, curling and indoor soccer. Cross-country running, Nordic skiing and wrestling were chosen. The Algoma University Thunderbirds Athletics program kicked off their "Road to the OUA" campaign with two exhibition women's soccer matches in August.
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Community asked to support October 4-5 'Road to the OUA' games
LOCAL2 Staff for local2 sault ste. marie
September 26th, 2012 at 8:50am