By Woodard, Dale on December 3, 2019.
You probably heard more than a few locals grumble about the latest blizzard to pelt southern Alberta last week.
However, this past week Lethbridge was host to a group of athletes who not only came a long way to be here, but jumped into the snowy environment they found themselves in.
As Winston Churchill held its Winston Churchill High School Basketball Jamboree last weekend, there was a boys and girls team that needed passports to be here as two representatives from Northside Christian College in Brisbane, Australia arrived last Wednesday for a week of hoops and checking out southern Alberta.
In this case, snow-covered southern Alberta.
And the visitors loved it.
“Back home it’s always so hot and we haven’t seen snow in ages. So it’s really cool to see snow,” said 16-year old Benjamin Smith. “After driving around, it was really cool to see snow everywhere and it was cool to jump into it.”
In addition to taking part in the two-day tournament, the Australian teams practised with the locals on Thursday and once the jamboree wrapped up, took in the sights of Lethbridge and area.
“It’s my first time in Canada and my first school trip, so hopefully I can come back in the future,” said Smith.
“Everybody is really welcoming. We had a training session with them, which was really cool. So it’s been really good to build a relationship overseas (with people) you’ve never met before.”
On Saturday night at Winston Churchill, the Brisbane representatives prevailed over the Immanuel Christian Eagles 57-40, but Smith noted the difference between the Canadian game and the one played down under.
“It’s pretty different in the way you shoot,” he said. “In Australia we try and smash the paint and work around the rim more. Over here, it’s a lot more shooting. It’s just adapting to that and it’s pretty cool to play a team where we haven’t played that style before.”
The trip was Smith’s first to Canadian soil, but for teammate Brodie Crown it was not only a return trip, but a family trip.
“My uncle and aunt (Rohan and Rebecca Crown) live here,” he said, adding his two cousins, Isabelle and Abigail, play on the Winston Churchill Griffins.
“I came here about four years ago. There was a little bit of snow, but nothing like this. I’m absolutely loving it.”
Given the distance, it’s not often the family members see each other, so the chance to re-connect and play some basketball as well was welcome.
“We rarely see them, so it’s amazing to actually see them again,” said Crown. “Uncle Rohan and Aunty Rebecca have been so amazing. They’ve given us their church to stay in for a week. They’ve given us meals and been such a blessing to us.”
The rest of the basketball community has been equally inviting.
“It’s phenomenal,” said Crown. “The hospitality has been sensational. Everybody has been so welcoming. It’s been such an awesome experience playing against each team. We’ve given each other gifts and it’s been so much fun connecting with other people and building relationships from the other side of the word. That’s been the most fun.”
When he heads back home to Brisbane, Crown will hit the court for both school and club teams.
“It’s a lot different in Australia because school basketball in Canada is really everything whereas school basketball in Australia isn’t really that competitive,” he said. “We’ve got one tournament that’s really competitive and we try our hardest to do really well in that. We play more club and representative. I play for the representative of North Brisbane. I play for a couple other school-based teams and club-based. It’s a lot different that Canada.”
Follow @DWoodardHerald on Twitter