Athletics at centrestage this weekend

Queen’s celebrates Sports Day in Canada with a tribute to basketball’s 100th anniversary

This Saturday Kingston and the Queen’s campus will help host the nation’s first Sports Day in Canada.

The ARC will host a variety of events throughout the day, including a Youth Basketball Clinic, a free one-day ARC membership, free swim, free fitness classes, a Gaels football viewing party and most significantly the 100-year anniversary celebration exhibition match between the women’s varsity basketball team and the McGill Redmen.

CBC will also be presenting the ITU Triathlon World Championships and the 2010

Men’s Rugby Canadian Championships, but the basketball game at 4 p.m. falls into the network’s primetime viewing slot. Women’s head coach Dave Wilson said he’s impressed with the long culture of basketball at Queen’s.

“One thing that is really unique, that most people don’t realize is that in 1910 there was a women’s varsity basketball team,” he said. “Most people don’t think that women played competitively back then but they did, and I think it’s a great tribute to enlighten people. Queen’s was a forerunner in women’s sport and I think that is a great accomplishment.” In his 30 years’ tenure Wilson has seen a transformation in the importance of athletics in the students’ lives.

“How sport has been viewed as a part of the education package is probably what has changed the most. When I used to talk to athletes [coming] to Queen’s … basketball was very much a secondary thing,” he said. “[Now] if I have to say that we don’t really have a spot for [someone] they don’t come to Queen’s. They will go to another university where they can get that experience, that’s how valuable it has become in this generation of players.” Although the game is just an exhibition match, the Gaels are looking forward to playing McGill, the second oldest team in Canadian women’s basketball, on national television. Fourth-year player Christine Wallace said she feels that the atmosphere should help get everyone pumped for the game.

“I am very excited; there is a lot of attention being paid to this game and this event,” she said. “We are all very excited and [the] nerves are getting in my head a little bit.”

The festivities are a celebration of athleticism and sport in Canada, all students are encouraged to attend, and admission is free for all events.

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