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

from 2013-15.

See the full column in the print and digital editions of The