COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN
Thomas Goossen, along with team mascot Bailey, watch the Brandon University Bobcats men’s volleyball team’s play at the CIS national men’s volleyball championship during a public screening at the Healthy Living Centre on Friday afternoon.
It was a nervous crowd at Brandon University’s Healthy Living Centre as the Bobcats men’s volleyball team hit the court in Quebec City last night.
Sports fans and hometown boosters watch the Brandon University Bobcats men’s volleyball team play at the CIS national championship during a public screening at the Healthy Living Centre on Friday afternoon.
(COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
Around 70 people dotted the stands at the HLC to watch the Bobcats’ first match at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship.
To cheer on the team that took home its first volleyball banner last week, the HLC will be open to the public to watch all the Bobcat action on two 15-foot screens in the gym.
Free sandwiches, popcorn and smoothies were given away, and local announcers made sure to rile up the crowd before the live televised shots showed Brandon’s hometown support on WCG-TV.
Bailey the Bobcat also lounged in the stands, getting excited at every point, while outbursts of clapping and cheers from the crowd highlighted each play.
HLC facility manager Maureen Bonar organized the event and said she hopes bigger crowds will come out as the Bobcats progress through the tournament.
"We need to get people out, cheering for our Bobcats because this is part of our university, and Brandon University is all about community spirit," Bonar said.
Riding the Bobcats’ wave in recent weeks — which included a win over the third-ranked Trinity Western Spartans in the Canada West conference final, a big upset over the
No.1-ranked Alberta Golden Bears in the semifinal, and sweeping the sixth-ranked Saskatchewan Huskies in the first round of the playoffs — was important for Bonar, and she said she wanted to play up the team’s success as much as possible.
"This might be the trademark for future years to come."
Most eyes were glued to the team’s first match, and the Canada West champions waged a tight, back-and-forth battle against the Montreal Carabins.
Though tension was high, the Bobcats pulled through with a win.
For Deb Berkan, the school’s director of finance registration services, coming out to watch the match certainly beat watching it at home on the couch.
"I don’t know what I was expecting," she said. "I was thinking more students would come out."
While a number of faculty members and administrators were in the crowd, including the school’s president, Deborah Poff, there was support from BU students.
Third-year phys-ed student Alyssa Burr made the trek out to watch some of her classmates on the national stage.
"It is good volleyball," she said. "It’s not boring, that’s for sure."
It wasn’t just faculty and students that made it out to watch the hometown heroes.
Susan Smith, who runs the Brandon coed volleyball league, and her husband Harley, a BU alumnus, have been cheering on the team all season and made it out on Friday wearing yellow and blue.
"I’m proud of them getting this far," Harley said. "It’d be nice to have another banner hanging on the roof. … It’s nice to see a young program go so far so fast."
Admission is free to watch the Bobcats matches at the HLC on the big screens throughout the team’s run at the national title.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 2, 2013