It's been 22 years since Winnipeg has seen a basketball team located in its region, and now, the Winnipeg Sea Bears are hoping to bring it back in full force for its debut season.
Winnipeg saw its first basketball team for three years—1993 through 1995—with Winnipeg Thunder in the World Basketball League and the National Basketball League both of which went out of business in the middle of the season which then ended the team.
Following the Thunder was Winnipeg Cyclone, from 1995 to 2001, in the International Basketball Association. Unfortunately, the Cyclone folded along with the rest of the International Basketball Association following the completion of the league’s sixth season in 2001.
With the new Winnipeg Sea Bears, there is hope for a strong team to remain in play for the foreseeable future with the strong basketball community in the city and surrounding areas.
Meet some of the team
Mike Taylor grew up in the basketball scene, with his dad being a coach, one could say he was born with the passion himself.
His coaching career took him to a variety of places, such as Europe, the United States, and Canada. Taylor even found positions for other teams in the Canadian Elite Basketbal Team (CEBL), like the Vancouver Bandits and the Brampton Honey Badgers.
Taylor was then approached to be the head coach and general manager for the Winnipeg Sea Bears and he took up the offer with excitement for the newly established team.
"The ultimate goal for every organization and every team is to win a championship," says Taylor. "But you know, we're at the beginning of those steps. This will be the first sea bear season and we're really excited about the future of the potential. So, this year we want to really establish a strong foundation, we want to have a great connection with the city and we want to establish an organization with a great culture and wonderful players experience."
Taylor goes on to say that they want to play the best game of basketball they can and to have a successful first season, but it's all about laying out a strong foundation for the future of the franchise to thrive.
"We want to be a team that's built the right way. That stands for the right things and really plays the game the right way."
Glen Yang started playing basketball at the age of 10 in Hong Kong, although he was originally born in Canada. He's found himself moving back and forth throughout his childhood and his basketball career.
He's played for Mount Royal throughout his university years and has played professionally in Hong Kong, Spain and the Philippines. He's had his radar on playing in the CEBL for a while and is now finally achieving his goal.
This recruited point guard is excited to get to know his team better during training camp which begins on May 19. Currently, the athletes are practicing on their own and will only have a short while to get to know how the others work.
"Us players, we've connected a little bit just through messaging and social media, stuff like that, and I've played against a couple of those guys before, so I'm a little familiar [with them,]" says Yang. "It'll be fun to see how we mesh. I think a lot of us aren't from Winnipeg so we'll have that chemistry from the start."
According to the Sea Bear website, the franchise name was chosen in honour of the largest bear in the world, the polar bear whose Latin name is Ursus maritimus, which directly translates to "Sea Bear." The name was chosen as this predator is seen in Manitoba's northern region and pays homage to the bear as a species under stress that shares the land in the north with the Dene people.
"I think it's pretty clever marketing because everybody's talking about it, right? So that's a good thing," says Coach Taylor.
For the Sea Bears' schedule, visit https://www.seabears.ca/