From the moment I took my first step off the plane I knew my life was about to change, but I had no clue what to expect. School was going to begin in about a weeks’ time and deep inside I knew it was going to be a big adjustment in my life. Coming from a prep school, it was easier leaving home since I had already done so for the last year and a half of my schooling. The difference now was that I had two hours by plane separating me from home compared to an hour by car.
Being at a new school meant it was back to the drawing board for all aspects of my life. My high school career didn’t matter anymore. Once again, I was just another freshman. What made being in a new city and school easier was being accompanied by several other new Tigers. There was equal opportunity to make a name for myself and improve the team. Unfortunately, an injury kept me from entering training camp until late September. Just as quickly as the opportunity came it disappeared, I went from mid pack to last before I even had the chance to practice.
During the year I remained mid pack. My role was mediocre, but I stayed hopeful. If I played over 20 minutes, it would be a great day. All I could do was improve as much as I could and help make the starters better in practice. As the year progressed I looked up to Will Yengue. He was a strong leader, conference all-star, personable and a good student. Yengue being the person that you first see when you walk into the Dalplex, I knew early in my career I wanted to be what he embodied. He set the bar high. I wanted to be the new bar.
This goal would turn out to be easier said than done. My second year became a rebuilding year similar to my first. Dalhousie welcomed a new coach. It is difficult returning to a coach who didn’t recruit you. We didn’t see eye to eye on many things. It was a difficult transition period for the program and we missed the playoffs. Instead of being down on ourselves, as a collective, we all knew the culture needed a change. Personally, I took this opportunity to focus on self-improvement.
As third year rolled around, the feeling in the gym and in the locker room had changed. The focus level increased and the culture was different. We had a great first half of the season starting off strong with 5-1 and at the top of our conference. Finally Dalhousie was competitive and a force in the AUS. Early in January, we lost one of our key components to our team due to an injury. Devon Stedman, team captain, offence force and defensive anchor was out for the season. With this loss we lost our identity and lost 9 of our last 14 games.
Going into the playoffs, the mind set was that we could forget the last 2 months and focus on winning one game at a time. We were underdogs but didn’t want to let our fellow brother’s injury be in vain. We never gave up and the team endeavored to win a conference championship. This was an amazing accomplishment, but it meant so much more after everything that we went through as a team.
Winning back to back was an unbelievable feeling, but the feeling was different since we were expected to win this time around. We knew that we could accomplish more. This year the goal is to 3peat, something no AUS team has done since 2006. Winning again will be tough, but I’ve always loved a challenge.
Now the stage is set. It would be the perfect storybook ending to my career, and also the career of four other seniors who I have shared some of my fondest memories with. They have been with me through the best times and also through the moments when you ask yourself if it is all worth it. Our first time at nationals, we lost both games. The second, we placed 4th. Every year has been a stepping-stone in the right direction.Hosting nationals this year means everything to me and my team. It will be the last chance to play in front of classmates and a city that has been unbelievably supporting. Our past success is due partly to the support system that Dalhousie has surrounded us with. It will be a final thank you to our fans and supporters. An opportunity to end my career in the same place where it began.
Hosting nationals this year means everything to me and my team. It will be the last chance to play in front of classmates and a city that has been unbelievably supporting. Our past success is due partly to the support system that Dalhousie has surrounded us with. It will be a final thank you to our fans and supporters. An opportunity to end my career in the same place where it began.
Dalhousie Men’s Basketball Team