New college sports programs for Wesmen

Basketball teams create new opportunities for players, university

Sukrorn Chhoeun and Grant Richter, coaches of the new Wesmen college basketball teams, will guide their squads in the Manitoba College Athletic Conference this year. Cindy Titus

The University of Winnipeg is adding two new basketball teams to the Wesmen program this fall.

The two teams, one male and one female, will participate in the Manitoba College Athletic Conference (MCAC) and compete against Assiniboine Community College, Booth College, Red River College, Providence College, Canadian Mennonite University, Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface, Oak Hills Christian College, and Assiniboine Community College.

The new program is an exciting opportunity for many basketball players who are looking to participate in a competitive program after high school. Marianne Serrano, a kinesiology and exercise science major at the U of W, is looking forward to joining the college team.

“I’m not sure what to expect for this new upcoming season since this league is just starting out, but I think it provides a great opportunity for athletes to continue to play organized basketball in a competitive setting,” Serrano said.

The college Wesmen teams will hold their tryouts in September; the men’s tryouts were held on Sept. 8, while the women’s have yet to be announced.

Sukrorn Chhoeun, who has been an assistant coach for the U of W Wesmen women’s basketball team for the past three seasons, will coach the women’s team this fall.

Chhoeun recently earned her Level 3 coaching certificate with the National Coaching Certification Program, and was the head coach of the Manitoba under-15 girls provincial team. She has also coached Wesmen Take Me On (TMO) and junior Wesmen teams.

With an already impressive resumé, Chhoeun is looking forward to the challenge of the upcoming season.

“I am pleased about the opportunity to coach our college Wesmen women’s team,” she said. “With the excitement of our university expanding in so many ways, having this niche of female basketball players who still want to compete at the college level in our positive university environment is just such a special thing.”

Tanya McKay, head coach of the Wesmen women’s basketball team, speaks highly of Chhoeun and the experience she brings to the position.

“I think this is a tremendous opportunity for her,” McKay said. “I believe she is ready, and it’s a perfect fit because she’s both a university student and involved in the Wesmen. It’s a great stepping stone for the future for her.”

Veteran coach Grant Richter will be the head coach of the men’s college team.

Richter was an assistant coach for the semi-pro Winnipeg Cyclones from 1997 to 1999 and took over as head coach for the Cyclones in 2000-2001. He was an assistant to Bill Wedlake from 1992 to 1998 with the Wesmen men’s basketball team and took over as the interim head coach for January and February 2010. He was also head coach of the Wesmen Collegiate boys team, who ended last season with a 28-2 record.

Richter sees the new teams as a positive outlet to keep more players active after high school.

“There are so many players with no options after high school basketball and many of them just quit playing competitively,” he said.

“There are only a few players who are capable of making the jump from high school directly to (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) ball. A program where players can develop their skills and compete against quality competition will help Manitoba develop a much needed resource, players that are highly skilled and mature physically and mentally.”

Published in Volume 65, Number 2 of The Uniter (September 9, 2010)

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