The game of basketball was hyped during Berry the Bandit’s visit to a Surrey school on Thursday morning (June 8).
The Vancouver Bandits mascot high-fived kids at Creekside Elementary, where 10 basketballs were donated for use by the 300-plus students, along with drawstring bags for all and tickets to a School Day Game next season.
The Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) team also gave the school a custom jersey with “Creekside 23” on the back, and team sponsor Sentinel Storage stepped up to donate $1,000 for playground equipment.
It was the latest of dozens of school visits by the Bandits over the past couple of basketball seasons as part of an outreach effort by the pro team, which plays at Langley Events Centre in spring and summer months.
“Last year the Bandits did 86 school visits,” noted Andrew Savory, VP of brand and communications, “and this year we’re slowly ramping that up. We’re really lucky now that we’re locally owned and we have an entire community department dedicated to school visits and community appearances.”
During recess at Creekside, on 91 Avenue, students and teachers gathered on the outdoor basketball court for a group photo with Berry and Sentinel rep Celeste Blackmore, who attended the Bandits’ School Day Game at the LEC two days earlier.
“It was electrifying, and my head’s still buzzing,” said Blackmore, the storage company’s national director of partnerships. “There were school bands playing out front, the kids were so excited and cheering right until the end. The Bandits came within a basket of winning, and the kids looked like they really loved the game.”
None of the team’s players attended at Creekside, but Berry the Bandit worked to excite the students.
Savory said the Bandits want more kids to embrace the game of basketball and, by extension, B.C.’s only pro hoops team.
“The jersey and the balls we’re giving to the school, it’s just to remind kids that sport is very accessible, especially basketball,” Savory said. “It’s easy to play, there are some beautiful hoops out back here at Creekside. We just want kids to know about the game, which is about inclusion and accepting your peers. It’s about healthy, active living, it’s financially accessible and the game inspires players to strive for more.”
On Tuesday (June 6) at Langley Events Centre, the Bandits lost 106-103 to Winnipeg Sea Bears during the School Day Game, watched by students from 31 schools in the region.
Up next for the Bandits is a trip to Ontario to face defending CEBL champion Brampton Honey Badgers on Friday, June 9, before playing Niagara River Lions the following night.
Vancouver’s next home game is Saturday, June 17, when Saskatchewan Rattlers visit Langley Events Centre. For tickets and game details visit thebandits.ca or call 604-455-8881.
A highlight of the Bandits’ fifth season will be hosting the CEBL Championship Weekend, Aug. 11-13. Billed as “an annual celebration of the highest level of Canadian professional basketball,” the three-day festival involves a postseason format that combines three games of playoff basketball where the Bandits receive an automatic semifinal berth.