Elementary students will fill stands as Ridgebacks host weekday hoops

Ridgebacks' guard AJ Cummings shoots free throws during a November game against the Ryerson Rams. Photo credit: Ryan Hahn

Playing at night and on weekends has not been kind to Ontario Tech’s basketball teams, as the first-year women’s and men’s program has a combined record of 0-22 in Ontario Universities Athletics play.

So now they get to try a new twist in their schedule.

It is the first of its kind for basketball at Ontario Tech, as the teams will host a pair of weekday games, starting at 11 a.m.

The games take place this Monday at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre.

Ontario Tech plays the Algoma Thunderbirds, with the women starting play, followed up by the men at 1 p.m.

The games are expected to have a big crowd with students from eight elementary schools in attendance.

According to Chris Cameron, Ontario Tech’s sports information and special events planner, the schools in attendance are from Ajax, Whitby and Oshawa.

Each school got personal visits from the men’s and women’s basketball team players in advance of the game.

Cameron said the players visited the school to speak about academics and athletics. Ontario Tech brought a different player to each school to say their part about what they do and how they are able to manage their time as a student-athlete.

It is a chance for the elementary school students to learn something from the player and give the schools a chance to come to Ontario Tech and watch the Ridgebacks play, said Cameron.

A crowd of around 800 students is expected to be at the game Monday.

“It will be a good atmosphere for players to play in front of,” Cameron said.

A lot of the students are bringing signs to cheer on the players they met when the team visited their school, he mentioned.

Cameron expects it to become an annual event for the basketball teams. It has been done in the past with the hockey teams.

Ontario Tech’s teams last saw action Wednesday against Guelph, with the women falling 82-53 and the men losing 94-72.

Algoma’s women’s team is 2-11, the men are 2-9.