Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference (MCAC) Wesmen basketball player Given Isaac is a player to keep an eye on in the next few years.
The point guard made the Wesmen team straight out of high school, an indicator of great talent according to Grant Richter, Director of Athletic Programs and Community Liaison for Wesmen athletics at the University of Winnipeg. But Isaac decided to play for the MCAC team in order to spend the majority of his first term on the court, rather than on the bench.
He scored 44 points on Sunday, November 17 at a tournament in the United States and Richter sees a bright future with the Wesmen team next year.
“I think they’re losing some athletes through graduation next year and he could fit right in and be a major contributor,” affirms Richter. “Right now I think he is the best player on MCAC.”
“There’s a lot of great guys on the team, everyone’s on the same page, everyone wants to win, and everyone wants to work hard,” Isaac says of the MCAC team, who are currently four games into the season with a 1-1 record as of press time.
Isaac is a player who has come through the Model School Program at the collegiate at the University of Winnipeg, which is attended by 40 students from grades 9-12. These students are chosen on the basis of being identified as showing great potential and interest to succeed in University, but face barriers that prevent them from doing so. A plan is created individually for these students to help them succeed, and they are given a full scholarship to University.
“Part of the reason I started the MCAC programs is because we had been working with youth, and we wanted to make sure we had a program to keep kids involved in sports at the next level,” explains Richter. “We have Brandon Murdock who was a Model School student with us, we have Matt Thomas, who played at Daniel Mac and is an inner-city athlete, so we actively recruit and look to provide opportunities for inner-city youth.”
Kevin Chief, Minister of Children and Youth Opportunities, is a great example of how those in sports with education programs can succeed. Chief, who attended Tec Voc, got a basketball scholarship through the UW. He graduated in 1998 with a Bachelor’s Degree majoring in Justice and Law Enforcement and a minor in Physical Activity and Sport Study, which paved his way to becoming Minister. He later helped create the Collegiate Model Program.
Isaac moved to Winnipeg from Kenya when he was five years old, and lived in the inner-city for quite a few years. The program has helped him pursue his passion for basketball. “It is a substitute for me for many other things I could be doing. It’s something I’ve been doing for a while, and I’ve become good at it so I’ve stuck with it,” he says.
Isaac hopes to play professional basketball one day, and looks up to NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain.
You can catch him playing at the next MCAC home game on Saturday, November 30, at 2:00 pm.