Hey everyone, I’d just like to start by saying that I’m honored that NPH has chose me to hold the CIS diary this year.
That being said, I’ve spent the last few weeks putting off writing my first entry trying to figure out what I’m going to say. I can’t speak for every student-athlete, but I know here our lives aren’t the most exciting.
I live with a couple guys on the team and I know that our time is split between the gym, the classroom or library, and laying in the living room watching TV and playing n64…Anyone who doesn’t appreciate a little throwback GoldenEye, Mario Kart or Mario Party needs to reevaluate their priorities.
On a more serious note, I guess I should introduce myself. I was born in Ottawa but grew up in Kingston, Ontario and I came to Acadia at the ripe old age of 17, not really sure what to expect. Looking back as a fifth year senior I think I can confidently say I’ve had a decent career here, and have even been lucky enough to spend some summers with the national program.
This past summer was especially busy with the University Games team. At the start of June I was lucky enough to be selected for the DMNT camp in Portland, Oregon. The camp was in preparation for a nine-game exhibition schedule in China, and while I was selected to travel with the team, the camp was an experience in itself. Not only were we using the Trailblazer’s facilities, but we also got to spend the mornings working out at NIKE world headquarters with some of their top trainers.
The team finished the China trip with a 9-0 record, and were feeling pretty confident going into the University Games. We won all the games we needed to win in order to make it out of pool play, but unfortunately got bullied by strong Russian and Serbian teams to finish fourth place. We didn’t do as well we wanted to, but I still took a lot out of the summer. The level of talent at practices was something that really forced you to step up your intensity. Playing with all these guys that excel at the NCAA level really helped me become a better player, plus they were just a great group of guys. I made some good friends and I’m definitely going to be following their teams this year.
On the flip side, this disappointing finish allowed me to look back at the University Games in 2011, and really appreciate what we did. Not a lot of people know, but a team entirely made up of CIS players went out and grabbed a silver medal, something I won’t be forgetting about any time soon.
When I finally returned to Canada it was back to the grind and hours of individuals, patiently waiting for my teammates to return. The pre-season is a weird time of the year. New systems, injuries and coaches shuffling through players to try and figure out everyone’s roles are just some of the challenges that teams have to face.
Some teams are just getting started up, and some teams are already in mid season form. As for Acadia, we’re going through some growing pains. After placing top four at nationals last year everyone has high expectations, including us. This makes it even more disappointing when you lose some of the games that we have so far, especially the way we lost. We started off the pre-season having some trouble executing on offense, which has also been hurting us on the defensive end. Fortunately, every day we’re getting better. We were expecting to be a great team coming out of the gates, but the fact of the matter is that we are a good team right now that’s making strides in the right direction. If we continue to work hard, and play as a team we are feeling good about what lies ahead.
I know it’s early but we’ve got our eyes on another AUS championship and a chance to play for a national title. I’ve always heard how a players’ mindset changes going into their final year, but didn’t think it would be this noticeable. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to be playing into March this year, and I have a feeling that Anthony Ashe, Anthony Sears and Lauchlan Gale (our other fifth year players) are feeling the exact same way.
It’s amazing the way coach Baur and the players involved have turned this program back into a perennial contender, but that isn’t enough for us. Breathing in the championship atmosphere every year only makes you hungrier the following year, in the famous words of Nelly, “2 is not a winner and 3 nobody remembers.”
We start our regular season in the AUS this weekend against a young, unpredictable UPEI Panthers team. PEI is a tough place to play, so we will have our work cut out for us, but I think these games are a good way to set the stage for the rest of the season.
Until next time,
Owen Klassen (@therealowenK)