The 2018 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Women’s Basketball National Championship is coming to Sackville, NB for the first time. The CCAA championship will bring eight teams from the country’s five conferences to Mount Allison University from March 14-17, 2018.
“As you build competitiveness and strength with your athletics brand and varsity programs, one of the measures of quality is the ability to host national championships,” says Director of Athletics and Recreation Pierre Arsenault. “When the opportunity came along to host the Women’s Basketball National Championship, it was an important milestone for us to say we were ready to do this.”
Mount Allison hosted CCAA Badminton Nationals in 2008 and 2011, as well as a U Sports football national semi-final, the Uteck Bowl, in 2013. Arsenault says bringing a national championship to a small community like Sackville (population 5,500) means the event will be put on the main stage.
“It can become the big event in town,” Arsenault says. “Everyone feels the energy and that will only strengthen the experience.”
Mount Allison alumnus Norval McConnell (’80) is the chair of the championship. An avid Mounties athletics fan and basketball enthusiast, McConnell has played an important role in bringing this championship to the next level. One of main partnerships he facilitated is a partnership with the nearby city of Moncton, located just 30 minutes from Sackville.
“Moncton has a long history of bringing regional, national, and international sports competitions to the city,” McConnell says. “This partnership has allowed us to provide all of the amenities the teams will need, just a short drive from Sackville.”
All teams and officials will be staying at the Crowne Plaza in Moncton and the CCAA Awards Banquet will be held there as well on Wednesday, March 14 to kick-off the tournament. Practice sessions will be held at Crandall University.
Another local partnership is with the Moncton Kiwanis Minor Basketball Association (MKMBA), which McConnell has been affiliated with for the past 20 years. This is the first time, he says, the association will have the ability to be involved with a national basketball championship this close to home.
“The MKMBA has always graduated players who go on to play at Mount Allison. There are currently three players on the women’s team and one on the men’s team who grew up playing basketball in Moncton,” says McConnell.
There are a number of other local personal touches that are being integrated into the tournament. There will be special guests to deliver the game ball to the referee each game, including former coaches of some of the players and members of the MKMBA.
There will also be a few interesting artistic contributions. Destination Art by Eric Goggin, located in nearly Salisbury NB, has created a unique, destination-inspired poster for each participant. As well, some of Mount Allison’s Fine Arts students are engaged in creating tournament artwork with pinhole cameras, pastels, and charcoal.
“It is something left as a legacy of this tournament in a different way,” McConnell says.
With less than two weeks until competition begins, McConnell is looking forward to showcasing all Mount Allison has to offer.
“We all have such an affinity for Mount Allison,” McConnell says. “We want the rest of the country to get to see it through our eyes.”
Arsenault says he hopes all the participants leave Mount Allison saying this was one of the best experiences of their varsity careers and that Mount Allison celebrated what it means to be a student-athlete.
He’s also excited to see the Mounties in action on their home court.
“I’m really proud of our program, our coaching staff, and our student-athletes,” he says. “I am most excited for our own team to live this on their own campus amongst their community of friends, family, and supporters.”
Conference championships are being held across the country this weekend (March 2-4) to determine who will attend the nationals on behalf of their conference. As hosts, the Mounties have an automatic bye into the national championship but will be competing for top spot in the ACAA. Clinching second place in the ACAA regular season, they will be playing in Saturday’s semi-final at 3 p.m. at Dalhousie’s Agricultural Campus in Truro, NS for a chance to play in Sunday’s final. Watch game action live at acaatv.ca.
Stay up-to-date with more stories and championship details at www.ccaa.ca/sports/wbkb and on mountiepride.ca. Follow the action on Twitter and Facebook @CCAAsportsACSC and join in the conversation using #CCAAwbb2018.