|Assistant Coach Steve Hopkins works Xs and Os with his Sting men's basketball crew in a recent game at Newnham Gymnasium.|
Friday, January 27, 2012
Seneca Sting Varsity Men’s Basketball team forms bond despite up and down season
The second of a two-part series.
By: Aneela Khan, Seneca Student Sports Reporter
Seneca varsity athletes are a different species of college student. They often experience more and unique pressures than the average Seneca student. They also deal with heavier workloads and have to find a balance for their school, part-time work, athletic commitments and personal life.
In the previous article, Seneca’s women’s basketball team was asked about their lives as student-athletes. In this article, the men’s basketball team is the focus.
The Seneca’s Sting varsity men’s basketball team hosted the Algonquin Thunder on a Friday night in early January and lost by a score of 69-55. The next night, they hosted the La Cité Coyotes and lost in the final seconds by a heartbreaking score of 69-68.
When most Seneca students were hanging out with friends and family or partying their Friday nights away, the Sting were hard at work on the hardwood.
Forward Curtis Baanee, who is currently studying Recreation and Leisure, points out that being a student-athlete isn’t hard for him.
“As a student athlete, it’s not as difficult as people think it is. You just have to show commitment and determination to balance both on court and off court activities.” Easier said than done for most Seneca students.
He also mentions that time management is key for Seneca student-athletes. Meanwhile, small forward Steve Bifsha, who is studying Accounting/Finance, points out that dedication is key for he and his team-mates.
Bifsha is a little more modest about the balancing act.
“It’s definitely tough. It takes a lot of time management. You have to be committed to the sport and school work so it takes a lot of time out of your schedule just to keep up with all the work.”
Bifsha’s biggest struggle as a student-athlete is making it all work.
“With my personal life, school work, job, basketball all at the same time; it’s definitely tough but I have people [family, friends, coaches, team-mates, team coordinators) who make it easy for me so that helps.”
Two-guard Adam Balazs mentions that he had to give up a lot when he became a Sting varsity athlete.
“Well, first of all, I’m from Niagara Falls, so I had to move here [to Toronto]. I had [and have] to sacrifice to be an athlete and to be a student as well.”
He also talks about his biggest struggle in his dual roles.
“Travelling to King Campus every day and visiting my family back home in Niagara Falls. That’s a long road trip!”
Guard/Forward KG Beckley, who just recently became part of the Seneca Sting men’s basketball team, describes his experience so far as a Seneca student athlete as a learning experience.
“I just got to the school so I’m still seeing how stuff works. I think so far so good. I’m starting to feel like the other guys on the team when it comes to managing personal life but at least I have them [as a resource] as I get closer to these guys. School wise, I’m still doing fine for first semester, but I see the struggle ahead.”
The players also discussed what they loved the most about being a student-athlete. For Baanee, it was his love of the game.
“I love playing basketball. Plain and simple. This is my game.”
For Bifsha, it was all about the team.
“I love the men’s basketball team. We are all a family and we are all brothers. That’s something other Seneca student don’t get to experience, really. Unless they come to our games,” Bifsha croaks.
For Balazs, it was about opportunity.
“What I love is coach [Wayne] Dawkins gave me an opportunity to be a part of this family and to be a part of this team.”
Finally, for Beckley, it was about the team and the brotherhood the binds them.
“I love the basketball team because they’re a good group of guys who want to win, and who look to win but even when the results aren’t there – they support each other. Lookout for one another.”
The players could all agree about the one thing they disliked when it came to being a student-athlete. All of them agreed that it was losing.
Beckley sums up what the team felt like after they lost to the La Cite Coyotes on Saturday.
“I don’t like the feeling of losing, even if you just lose by like one point, you don’t feel like you gained anything because at the end of the day a loss is a loss. But through wins and losses, we’re still a team.”
The Sting men’s basketball squad’s next game is on Saturday Jan. 28 against the Cambrian Golden Shield at Newnham Gymnasium (Building G, Sports Centre, Lower Level). Tipoff is set for 4:30 pm.
Sting varsity women’s basketball talk the unique lives of student-athletes
The first of two stories in a short series.
|Coach Craig Walker talks game plan with his 9-1 Seneca Sting Women's Basketball squad.|
By: Aneela Khan, Seneca Student Sports Reporter
They practice and play games multiple times per week; and sometimes, their intensity off the court matches their intensity in-games. Intensity is, partly, what has made the Seneca Sting varsity women’s basketball team the squad that they are today – 9-1 on the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) regular season, as they head into the championship tournament that they are hosting, March 1-3, 2012 at Seneca’s Newnham Gymnasium.
Varsity athletes are much like you or I except that they are wholly and completely different.
We do school work, they do school work, then they get on team bus for a road trip to Barrie to play weeknight game against Georgian Grizzlies. We have part-time jobs, they have part-time jobs, then they have to sprint across the GTA to practice under the watchful eye of head coach Craig Walker. We try to find time for a personal life, well, they try, but it ain’t easy for them.
Life can get very demanding for varsity student-athletes.
The Seneca Sting women’s basketball team, who were undefeated in league play until a loss to the rival Algonquin Thunder, 53-47, were asked to share the details of their intense, complicated lives as student-athletes.
Head coach Walker, reflects on his past and present student-athletes and the challenges they faced – and continue to face.
He highlights the fact that all of his student-athletes have passed their first and second semesters, often with impressive results and that more than 95% have gone on to graduate. He also mentions that some of the basketball players on his current squad are even making the Dean’s List. So, what’s your excuse?
Walker says he is aware of the fact that being a student-athlete is tough but he knows that his players are hard workers and can handle any situation thrown at them.
Forward Zoe Layne, who is currently studying in the Social Worker program, describes her day to day life as a student athlete.
“We try to train every day. We have practices 3 times a week which can get very tiring so you have to make sure you eat well, sleep well and make sure you don’t fall back in classes because that can strongly affect you.”
She also outlines some of the difficulties that student-athletes face.
“I guess just mostly balancing school work and basketball because sometimes we’ll be coming home at 10 or 11 p.m. at night, from a home game, do homework and it can get very tiring. You just have to be very organized and know what you are doing.”
Zoe offers some insight and a reality check to those Seneca students who think being a student-athlete is all about the swag, gear and uniform.
“As an athlete, it might look like easy, what we do on the court, but behind the scenes, it’s very hard, you really have to work hard, put in the effort to get along with your teammates because it’s a team sport. It’s five people, not one. As well in order to be a student-athlete, you have to bring your heart and soul on the court for the Seneca Sting.”
Centre Tamara Nembhard, who is studying Early Childhood Education, loves her life as a student-athlete.
“It’s probably a better experience than if I were a regular student, I have to say. I feel like basketball teaches you more about life rather than just going through the motions. The coaches and the players build more character and teach you how to deal with life problems.”
She also shares the feelings of her team-mates, that being a student-athlete is not easy and that the struggle with finding balance is a mighty one.
She points out some challenges that come up.
“We play basketball a lot, about four to five times per week, and getting to class on time is tough – you’re always in a rush." She also points out that student-athletes can and often have to be very driven.
“We are a hard working bunch, we have to be, because we have to deal with not only the trials and tribulations of sport, we also deal with tests and exams in the classroom.”
Tamara also reveals that just because she is a student-athlete, it does not mean that she gets any preferential treatment.
“A lot of people think that athletes have things handed to them because they play sports for the school but that’s not the case at all. We’re very, very, very hardworking and everything we get, we worked hard for it, and if we don’t work hard for it, we don’t get rewarded, so anything you see us with or see us get, it’s because we earned it and hard work gets rewarded.”
A great lesson for any Seneca student, athlete or not.
The Sting Women’s Basketball team’s next home game is Saturday, Jan. 28th against Cambrian. Tipoff is at 6:30 p.m. in Newnham Gymnasium (Building G, Sports Centre, Lower Level).
Seneca College will also proudly serve as host of the 2012 Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) Women’s Basketball Championship, March 1-3, 2012.