Success in the game of basketball is nothing new to recent Queen’s graduate and men’s basketball post Mike Shoveller.
After five successful years at the collegiate level, Shoveller’s accomplishments reached new heights this past April when he brought home a silver medal as part of Team Canada at the Commonwealth Games.
The Games, which took place April 4 to 15 in Gold Coast, Australia, are hosted every four years, with this summer’s rendition marking its 21st Games. A total of 71 Commonwealth countries and territories participated in the event, including Canada.
It was only the second time the sport of basketball was featured at the Games and the first time it hosted a Canadian basketball team. The men’s tournament was divided into two pools of four teams, with Canada matching up against the host, Australia, along with Nigeria and New Zealand.
Shoveller told The Journal over a phone interview that sporting the red and white in an international capacity was a unique feeling. He noted how fortunate he was to be chosen as one of the athletes to get the honour of representing his home country.
“I was pretty excited … to be able to represent the country on the national stage,” Shoveller said. “I was kind of overwhelmed with emotions [at first], but once it finally settled in, I was really honoured.”
The Canadian men’s basketball team, unlike those of other competing nations, was comprised solely of university-level athletes—many of whom Shoveller competed against throughout his Queen’s career. He said playing alongside them, and seeing what each brought to the table, was a positive experience.
“Sharing experiences from different schools and what guys do at different programs was pretty cool,” Shoveller said. “Obviously going against some of those guys for my whole career … it was a shift to then [be] playing with them, but it was a lot of fun.”
The tournament started with some early struggles for Canada, including two blowout losses to New Zealand and Australia by 22 and 40 points, respectively. Shoveller attributed the losses to the team’s understandable lack of chemistry on the floor. He noted that members of the team, in contrast with other countries, had never played on the same side of the floor before.
“I think throughout the entire tournament, we came together as a team that never played together before,” Shoveller explained. “The first time we played New Zealand was early in the tournament and we weren’t at the level that we were in the second [game].”
Canada got their chance at revenge against New Zealand in the tournament’s semi-finals. This time around, the scoreline read much differently. After a game winning three pointer by the University of Alberta’s Mamadou Gueye, Canada took the game 88-86 and progressed to the finals with a shot at bringing home the gold.
“We were a more cohesive unit, and the game plan was executed well,” Shoveller said of the team’s approach to the semi-finals.
“It was a memorable victory.”
The gold medal game was less favourable for Canada, losing the to tournament host and favourite Australia 87-47.
Even without a win in their final, Shoveller said grabbing silver—especially at their first Games—was a memorable moment.
“Once it sunk in that we were going to be going home with a medal after that game, it was pretty awesome to be able to share that with those guys,” Shoveller said of celebrating with his teammates.
Despite graduating from Queen’s in the spring, Shoveller doesn’t plan on ending his basketball career quite yet.
Currently, he’s waiting to hear back from a few graduate schools, where he plans to use his final year of eligibility in basketball. Following that, he hopes to pursue a professional basketball career overseas.
For the time being, Shoveller is simply enjoying the achievement of a lifelong dream.
“Every time you got to put on the jersey with Canada across your chest, [it] was pretty unique and something I didn’t take for granted while I was there,” Shoveller said of his opportunity at the Games.
“The initial goal for me as a kid was to be able to represent Canada and play on the national team—but to win a medal was just the cherry on top.”
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