There’s a new energy around all four Brandon University Bobcats teams this week.
The Bobcat squads moved into new Healthy Living Centre for practices for the first time on Tuesday and they couldn’t be happier to have a new permanent home, especially one that looks so nice.
“I’m happy we have a legit CIS gym now and don’t have to be embarrassed when teams come to the old gym,” said Jordan Reaves, a 6-foot-5 forward and one of the captains of the BU men’s basketball team. “The floor is nice, the new nets are nice, it’s a lot bigger. It’s just an overall better atmosphere in here. It feels like a real university gym now and we’re ready to get at it in this gym.”
All the teams have been forced to practise at various local gymnasiums for the past month due to the ongoing construction of the Healthy Living Centre. The men’s basketball team bounced around between Assiniboine Community College, École New Era School and a gymnasium at CFB Shilo.
Gil Cheung, head coach of BU’s men’s basketball team, appreciates the community support for allowing them to use their facilities for the last month, but admits it’s nice to have a home base. He said the new players are especially appreciative of the Healthy Living Centre’s main gym being operational.
“They don’t know what it’s like in the old gym, but they’re just happy to have a place to call home,” Cheung said. “The community’s been great for us. They’ve done everything they can to support us and make sure we have places to practice and play. To finally have a place to call home again, we’re definitely excited.
“The university should be very proud of the product it has produced right now because the gym looks amazing and we’re definitely very excited for the season to start.”
Cheung said it’s important for the basketball team to get used to playing on a bigger court as they prepare for the upcoming Canada West season.
Moving to a bigger gymnasium was also key for the preparations of both volleyball teams. Practising in the new facility will allow them to get used to a more spacious gymnasium and better prepare to receive longer serves.
“For us, practising at ACC was fine — in fact it probably helped us in some regards with ball control things — but the reality of it is when we play in conference games, we’re going to play in gyms like this that are more spacious and bigger,” BU men’s volleyball coach Grant Wilson said. “Sometimes it takes a while for players to adjust with serve and serve receive. It can be tough on setters, too, so the sooner we get in here, the better. We’re glad to be finally in here.”
One thing the old gym offered the Bobcats was a definite home-court advantage. The bleachers made it feel like the fans were right on top of the court and the cozy surroundings allowed the noise to reverbrate off the walls throughout a game.
The new gym will be much more open, but it can fit more fans with 1,000 individual seats on the new bleachers. Reaves hopes the Healthy Living Centre won’t change the atmosphere at Bobcat games, and can’t wait to hear the fans support the teams this year.
“I’m hoping it will be a loud atmosphere,” he said. “I love the loud crowd and I’d love to have the crowd behind us. I’m just hoping for some exciting games.”
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 4, 2012