The upstart Maritime Women’s Basketball Association announced they will launch a new competitive basketball league with games set to begin next year, with three franchises in Nova Scotia and another three in New Brunswick.
It’s being hailed as a slam-dunk for women’s basketball in the Maritimes.
MWBA founder Brad Janes says the league is being established to fill a void and give women’s basketball players who want to continue and extend their competitive playing days during and following their collegiate playing days.
“Athletes, especially female athletes, many of their playing careers are done after high school,” said Janes. “And those who are fortunate enough to play post-secondary, once those careers are done, unless they turn professional or go overseas or wherever it is, you may never play again.”
Tasia McKenna knows the challenge of finding avenues to continue playing basketball in Canada following a University or College level career.
“For me when I was playing there was an element of you’ve finished playing because you’ve graduated and then that was it,” said McKenna. “So it was really decided for me unless I wanted to move to Europe.”
The 32-year-old Halifax native was named the commissioner of the MWBA and said it’s this kind of league she’s wishes was around while she was finishing her university career, where she played at Lakehead Univerisity in Thunderbay, Ontario where she was named a three-time OUA All-Star.
“I would love for this (MWBA) to be a place where those athletes can go and play,” said McKenna. ” Then they (the players) can decide, after one year maybe that’s it or maybe ‘I want to play five years,’ it’s giving them a bit of a runway to finish of their careers.”
The league will begin to play in April 2022 with the plan on playing a regular season with a final championship tournament being playing in early at a location to be determined by the league.
The Maritime Women’s Basketball Association is weighing a number of schedule options when the league opens in the spring of 2022.
There are currently six teams on board, including the Halifax Sirens, Halifax Thunder and Windsor edge competing in Nova Scotia, along with three teams in New Brunswick, including the Fredericton Freeze, Port City Fog in Saint John and the 506 Elite in Moncton.
Since the announcement of the formation of the league, Janes says two other teams, another in Halifax and one in Woodstock, N.B., have shown interest in joining.
“We’re not forgetting about Prince Edward Island either, we’ve had a number of conversations with people there,” said Janes. “I’m sure PEI won’t be absent from the MWBA very long.”
McKenna says building a competitive league for women basketball players might open the door and inspire other women’s sports leagues to form.
“This could be a building block for other people to follow, ” said McKenna. “I know I have seen some different people sharing info about maybe soccer or maybe volleyball could do this and that would be really awesome.”
The MWBA is still working out its plan for drafting players and building its rosters, but Janes says teams teams will compete out of local university and college gyms.