Teams from all over Canada come to the Langley Events Centre for Bballnationals. Now in the third year of the tournament, the Edmonton Grads are a club that have attended from the very beginning.
“We needed a club nationals. Club is much more popular than the provincial sport associations are, and there was no outlet to play nationals, so when they started that up, it was a no-brainer for us to join in,” says Edmonton Grads president and coach Gerald Bleau.
“It’s definitely the premiere tournament in the west for us,” he explains. “It’s probably the highest competition that we have in club ball. In Western Canada, for sure.”
The Edmonton Grads are bringing three teams — U15 girls, U17 girls, and an open girls team.
The Grads take their name from the Edmonton Commercial Graduates Basketball Club, better known as the Grads, which operated from 1915 to 1940 with a record of 502-20 and were called by James Naismith, the founder of basketball, the "finest basketball team that ever stepped out on a floor." Nearly 100 years before the Raptors won the NBA title, the then-Grads became world champions for the first time in 1923 defeating the Cleveland Favorite-Knits, a feat they would repeat for 17 years, while also competing overseas in conjunction with the Olympics.
“We’re just building on that legacy,” says Bleau.
The Edmonton Grads Youth Basketball Association was established in 1997 and run the Great Canadian Shootout on the first weekend of July each year — this year from June 28 to July 1 — at the Saville Community Sport Center. Bleau has over 30 years of coaching experience.
Bleau says they are “absolutely” looking forward to Bballnationals.
“It’s just great level of ball,” he explains. “It’s a growing experience for them, you know, new competition. The distance is a factor in Canada, so we don’t travel as much. We’ll travel provincially, but inter-provincially, we don’t as much, so it’s a nice chance to see what teams from other parts of the country are like.
“[Bballnationals is] the highlight of our year.”
Spots are still available for Bballnationals, which goes from July 29th to August 5th at the Langley Events Center. Registration closes July 1st.
Written by: Austin Cozicar