After months of anticipation, Canada’s newest professional basketball team, the Calgary Surge of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) is ready for its season opener.
Players and personnel of the Surge met with members of the media Tuesday morning at Winsport Arena ahead of their season debut at the Markin MacPhail Centre Thursday, May 25 at 4 p.m. against Edmonton Stingers.
The one common sentiment amongst the new players, who recently arrived in Calgary, was just how excited they are to play basketball in Calgary. Trevon Scott, a six-foot-eight forward for the Surge, said he’s been impressed with how the city has already taken to the team before they’ve even played a game.
“A lot of excitement to have basketball back in the beautiful city of Calgary. Everywhere that I’ve been, everyone that we’ve been around has been super excited and was telling us how excited they are to watch us and for us to get on the court and compete,” said Scott.
Scott’s NBA-sized frame is a common characteristic for the rest of the team, as General Manager Shane James prioritized length and athleticism when building the Surge.
“Mike Girling (assistant GM for the Surge) and I, we’ve been in this league for a while now. And part of the process in building the roster was to be different from other teams, and I think that starts with having size and athleticism,” James said.
“People are going to enjoy watching us. As I said, you know we have athletic guys that have size, and coach has put in an exciting style of play that people are probably not accustomed to seeing.”
Connection to the community
Surge VP Jason Ribeiro was brimming with excitement when met with the media. He discussed the upcoming season but also talked about what the city means for him and the team.
“It’s been one of the most beautiful experiences of my life,” Ribeiro said.
“To see how the community has embraced this team before we’ve ever played a game, to be, I think, almost sold out if not already sold out for our first game is incredible, to see our basketball operations staff or front office staff gelling together, but most importantly, gelling with the ebb flow of community in Calgary, I’m just so excited to be bringing basketball to the masses in the city.”
Ribeiro has set up his life in Calgary, both getting married and raising a family here. He was clear that a strong relationship with the community is extremely important for the Surge’s success heading into the season.
Everyone from all sectors of the city are needed to support the Surge. For Ribeiro, that starts with the kids.
“Probably 90 per cent of the reason we’ve done this is because we’ve thought about the kids on the margins, folks in all four corners of the city that don’t feel as connected to this really positive and emerging story that is Calgary in this kind of new era,” Ribeiro said.
“I’m very proud to say that because of the Surge assist program, our partnership with Kids Up Front Calgary, and the generous support of donors, particularly the lead sponsor for that program, Sandstone Asset Management, over 1,500 kids who don’t have the means and their families will be able to take a Surge game in for free. But more importantly than that, take in full breadth of the experience.”
Anyone, not just corporations, can donate to this program. By heading to calgarysurge.ca under the ticket section you will see the Surge Assist tab, from there you’ll be guided through the donation process.
Kids Up Front will deliver this ticket through one of the 150 social service agencies across Calgary.