COLCHESTER- The season may not start for a while, but the St. Michael’s men’s basketball team is hitting the road for Canada.
“We kind of hatched the plan two years ago, and started raising money,” said Head Coach Eric Eaton during a recent practice.
It’s the first time the program has attempted a trip out of the country in its history. Coach Eaton explained what league rules are with this sort of trip. “You’re allowed to do it by NCAA rule once every four years,” he said. “It’s great obviously to be here in the summer and practice and get some extra games in at a time we usually don’t. But the cultural experience and the camaraderie we’re gonna put together when we get there is gonna be great.”
The team is set to play four games four games up north, two in Montreal and two in Toronto. The first game was Wednesday afternoon against Bishop’s University and St. Michael’s won 82-78 in overtime.
The team also plans to enjoy an off day in each city to explore. “We have a bunch of events planned,” said senior Dario Milojevic. “I think we’re going to go water rafting [and] we’re gonna hit the Sien tower. It’s just cool all of us being together and having fun. I think it’s a great thing with team bonding.”
Team bonding is what the team is most looking forward to. “I think it’s a good opportunity for all of us to bond, get to know each other a little bit better,” said sophomore Chuma Oyigbo. “[And] see how we play on the court. Just to get a better feel for each other, that’s the biggest thing.”
Head Coach Eaton agreed. “I think when you’re away for a week and you have nowhere else to go but hang out with each other, you kind of don’t have a choice but to figure each other out a little bit.”
The good thing is, this team already seems to get along pretty well. “I feel like this year in particular, we just met not even a month ago and I feel like we already know each other for years now,” said sophomore CJ Crews.
The Canada trip has a special meaning for Milojevic who happens to be the only team member originally from Canada. He is from Windsor, Ontario.
“It’s great to be back home and have a chance to play in front of friends and family,” he said. “Seeing my guys, they always talk about how they don’t know anything about Canada so I think it’ll be a great thing for everybody to see what it’s like.”
His knowledge of the country might even come in handy for the team as a tour guide. “Coach Eaton’s been talking to me about that,” said Milojevic. “He’s like, ‘oh, you know what these teams do. You’re Canadian, you should know how these teams play.’ He always asks me where we’re going to go for dinner and what I know. Yeah I’m gonna try, it’s going to be fun for sure.”
In terms of the upcoming winter season, Coach Eaton and his players have high expectations. “We have our deepest year, we have our most talented team,” said the Head Coach.
“It’s great, said Milojevic. “Everybody’s on board, everybody is ready to play and I love it. Everybody’s collective and together so I definitely think this will be a great year for us.”