In March of 2020 the University of Manitoba Men’s Basketball team had recorded our best record in school history and had made it to the Canada West Semi-Finals for the first time in a long time. We were seen as the underdogs in this matchup against the University of Alberta. The game was extremely close coming down the stretch and we had managed to tie the game with less than ten seconds to go. I was entrusted with the shot that would win us the game and guarantee us a spot in the Usports Nationals. Time seemed to be moving in slow motion as I tripped, got up, caught the ball, and then hoisted up a fade away three that held so much weight when thinking about where our season would end up. Unfortunately the shot did not go in.
At this point, I was itching for another chance to compete. As a competitor, you never want to go out on a bad note. I knew that Canada was going to be starting a new professional league and that I would qualify for the draft seeing as I had just finished my senior year at the Usports level. Less than a month later, the draft took place. I was selected by the Saskatchewan Rattlers with the 8th pick of the draft. I was extremely excited for this upcoming opportunity and trained for hours on end.
Covid-19 was starting to gain attention but was not yet a huge deal in Canada. There was no doubt in my mind that the CEBL season would carry on as expected. Not too much later, Covid had spread like wildfire and most of the world, including the CEBL, was shutting down as a way to try and slow the spread of this now global pandemic.
This left me with two decisions, sit at home and kill time until my next opportunity to play, or focus on what I can control and do everything in my power to improve my body in preparation for a debut in the CEBL which was not guaranteed to happen that year. I chose the second option. I did research and invested in the materials needed to try and gain muscle as efficiently as possible without having access to a gym. The goal in mind was to try to put on 10 lbs of lean muscle before I started my professional career.
I stayed consistent for the next two months. This included making sure that I was eating enough while strength training 5 days a week and adding skipping in the backyard for cardio twice a week. I made a conscious effort to just focus on the day to day process and avoid looking at the scale. When I had been at it for about two months I was shocked to see that I had managed to put on 15 lbs of what seemed to be good weight. I felt stronger than ever before and skipping for cardio had helped me maintain my quickness and jumping ability.
Not too much later I received a call from the Rattlers saying that the season would be taking place but in a different way. The CEBL was going to have a bubble situation called the “CEBL Summer Series.” They continued to explain that all of the players would be expected to report to St. Catherine’s, Ontario to take part in a 6 game season followed by the playoffs. They explained that all of the players would have to first be screened for Covid and that only after those results came back negative could we begin our training camps. They then asked if this was something that I would like to be a part of. Before they could finish their question I shouted “Yes!” The work that I had put in over the last two months was finally going to be put to the test.
Once I got to the bubble, everything was ran as expected. Players were not allowed to mingle and were tested as soon as possible. Once the tests came back negative, we started training camp and eventually began to play. It was a very successful series, because of the league’s rules and regulations nobody was infected with Covid and the CEBL had successfully executed the first real bubble situation effectively. At the end of the series, I was named as the runner up for the Usport player of the year award. I attribute that success to all of the work that I put in while I did not know if the season was even going to happen.
Now it is December 2nd and gyms are back to being closed again. This time however, I have been here before and know exactly what needs to be done to prepare for the next CEBL season. Whether things open up, or they remain shut and we have to do another bubble to play a shortened season, I will be Ready!