In addition to bunnies and bonnets, this Easter weekend will also be
full of basketball.
A lot of mention has been made of the fact that many of the players
that took to the courts for the NCAA Division 1 men’s and women’s
basketball tournaments this year hailed from Canada.
Given that each of the teams in the Final Four in the women’s division
includes a Canadian player, we are guaranteed to have a female player
as a champion from north of the border.
It is a fitting finish given that it was a Canadian who is credited
with inventing the game of basketball. It all began at the YMCA
International Training School in Springfield, Mass., known today as
Springfield College, where a young physical education instructor by the
name of James Naismith, who was born in Almonte, Ont., was working.
The story goes that in December of 1891, Naismith wanted to come up
with an activity for his class to play during the winter months, so he
devised a set of 13 basic rules for a game he called Basket Ball.
He secured a peach basket to a railing 10 feet above the floor, one at
each end of the gymnasium, and provided his class with a soccer ball
and the rules. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
By 1893, the game had been promoted throughout the YMCA system and it
was through that vehicle that basketball made its way to Canada. By
1900, basketball was being played by both men and women at local YMCAs
and YWCAs, and in schools and clubs.
Just as it is today, basketball was popular amongst women attending
post-secondary institutions with inter-class and inter-collegiate games
being commonplace on campuses in Canada during the early 1900s.
It was not until Feb. 6, 1920, however, that the first recorded female
inter-university game was held, which saw the McGill Martlets emerge
victorious over the Queen’s Gaels with a final score of 21-16.
Last February, before the world shut down, U Sports, which oversees
university sports in Canada, marked the 100th anniversary of this
historic milestone by naming the Top 100 women basketball players of
the century. Included amongst the 2011-2020 honorees was Lakehead
University alumnus Jylisa Williams, who played for the Thunderwolves
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