Mt. Baker Wild to present new college basketball event

‘Wild Battle At The Border’ features teams from Pac-West and ACAC, kicking off the basketball season

The Mt. Baker Wild senior girls basketball team is presenting an inaugural college backetball tournament in September.

The Mt. Baker Wild senior girls basketball team is presenting an inaugural college backetball tournament in September.

Barry Coulter

The Mount Baker Senior Girls basketball team is presenting an event to kick off the autumn and the high school and college backetball seasons.

The Wild Battle at the Border is an inaugural festival, based around the port of basketball, which will be held at Mount Baker Secondary School towards the end of September. Four college women’s teams have been invited from B.C.(Pac-West) and Alberta (ACAC), who will compete over the weekend of Friday, September 25, through Sunday, Sept. 27.

Organizer Al Nutini says the concept for the tournament started with the idea of trying to build up basketball culture in Cranbrook — and to build it beyond the high school level. It is also a way to give back to the community, and to showcase smaller post-secondary schools.

The teams — Ambrose College (Calgary), Red Deer College, the Kings University (Edmonton) and Capilano (Vancouver) have responded with great enthusiasm, Nutini said. As the tournament would take place just prior to the Pac-West and ACAC basketball regular seasons, it would function as a team-building exercise for the teams involved, give them the opportunity to play teams they wouldn’t normally play, and to get small town and Kootenay Rockies experience the participants wouldn’t normally have.

“It also gives them the chance to market their schools,” Nutini said. “There are a lot of great, smaller schools out there, that maybe people don’t think of when (they’re considering post-secondary options).

“We really want to feed the schools, to highlight them, to make this event worth their while.”

There are going to be more than 100 people coming into town, with all the positive economic impact that entails.

The inaugural event features high quality women’s college basketball, but organizers aim to expand it in subsequent years to include men’s teams.

Nutini stressed that this is not about fundraising for the local Mount Baker basketball squads, but the Wild are indeed hosting the event.

“As a community team, we’re always drawing from the community. We want this event to give back to the community, as well as give people another sport to watch.”

Nutini has great plans to involve the community in the event as well.

“We’re looking for people who may want to sing the national anthem before games,” he said. “Or perform half time entertainment. I’m willing to consider anything.”

Another idea for community involvement is pairing an elementary school team with each visiting college team, have the local students wear that team’s kit, and coming to cheer their team on during each game.

The Mt. Baker Senior Girls Team will be running all gym duties during the tournament.

But the local involvement will also benefit the visiting teams. Nutini suggested a private movie showing at Columbia Theatres could be arranged, or even group hikes into the local backcountry — “to give them a real Kootenay experience like they can’t get anywhere else.”

“It’s about building relationships with sports, that goes beyond just sports.”

The event is taking shape. Nutini said St. Eugene Resort has offered great rates for the visiting teams to stay there. The six-game schedule is set, with the opening game kicking off Friday, Sept. 25, at 6 p.m. And the final game at 12 p.m. Sunday, Sept 27. A weekend pass for all six games will $20, a daily, two-game pass will be $10.

Watch these pages for more information as the event draws near.