From community to court: Building UOIT’s basketball program

Ridgebacks women's basketball coach Christa Eniojukan poses with the winning girls team from the three-on-three elementary school tournament hosted by UOIT recently. Photo credit: UOIT Athletics

The UOIT Ridgebacks may not hit the basketball court until next fall, but they’re already working on building their teams and presence in the community.

Recently the Ridgebacks, which have been approved to begin play in the Ontario university loop next fall, hosted a three-on-three elementary school tournament at the university.

Ridgebacks women’s basketball coach, Christa Eniojukan says she’s staged three-on-three tournaments with her Durham Elite Prep team before and decided to conduct one on behalf of UOIT to bring attention to the new program.

“The reason why I started doing it is because three-on-three is growing and soon going to be in the Olympics,” says Eniojukan. Three-on Three will make its Olympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 games.

“So, we wanted to do something in the community and get a lot of kids opportunities to play more, so that’s where we came up with the three-on-three idea and we’ll continue to do it,” she says. “And next year probably grow it even more and do it for different ages, but it’s a nice way of bringing UOIT basketball into the community.”

The Ridgebacks have also been busy looking for players for their new teams.

“Both myself and the men’s coach [Greg Francis] are both heavily recruiting all over the country, looking for the right players and the right fit to fit our vision,” says Eniojukan.

She says UOIT will host a high school showcase on Dec. 21 to bring in high school teams to play on campus. The students who will play have already been looked at by Eniojukan and Francis.

“The kids that are coming, we already know, like we’ve already been recruiting them. So, it’s not really to evaluate them, it’s just giving them an opportunity to play on our campus,” she says.

Eniojukan says there are “key recruits” on those teams and hopes the Ridgebacks have some commitments soon. The goal, she says, is to have as close to 12 to 15 players as possible before September. But they’ll still hold tryouts.

“Hopefully we’ll have a good idea going into the summer time about who is on the team. We’ll still host open tryouts, because you never know who’s out there and who we’ve missed,” says Eniojukan.

As for getting the campus community excited for the first season, she says they’re still discussing how they’ll do that.

“There’s still lots of talks at the table, but we do want to make sure that we build a really strong community with the student body and have their fan support, so that they can be like our sixth man.”