By Mohamud Ismail
Things heated up on campus as the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Final 8 men’s basketball tournament burst onto the scene. In the midst of all the craziness, the Final 8 Fan Fest was hidden in the Coca-Cola Court.
Of course, the CIS tourney was by far the biggest event of all — especially with Ryerson winning its first medal in men’s basketball history. However, there were plenty of engaging events that happened with the tournament simultaneously.
Lynne Rozario, the Corporate Sales Manager at Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) said that the goal of these events was to engage fans because “a tournament strictly based around the competition itself will not always reach the widest audience.”
To kick off the fest on March 12, Jamaal Magloire and Jama Mahlaela were at Coca-Cola Court, giving out autographs and taking pictures with fans.
Magloire is a former Canadian basketball player, one-time NBA All-Star, and current Raptors assistant coach. Mahlaeha is currently a Raptors assistant coach as well, starting in 2013-2014 season.
Many kids were there, getting their chance to meet their role models.
“It’s great,” Jon Laframboise said after his child got an autograph. “[Magloire] is an icon.”
On March 13, the mascot of the Pan Am Games, Pachi, was at the MAC. While not directly related to the Final 8, this event did a great job in terms of representing the various sporting events happening throughout Toronto this year.
Norissa Samuels, a mascot ambassador, felt that Pachi being there could help to increase the hype for the Pan Am Games. “Pachi goes everywhere,” she said. “People get to learn more about the games in-depth. It helps to bring awareness”
March 14 was a day with a large Raptors presence. People were able to meet with the Raptors’ Dance Pak. Additionally the Raptor was signing autographs and taking pictures.
In between the events with the Raptors, there were autograph signings with Glen Grunwald, Leo Rautins, and Michael Meeks.
Grunwald is a former Assistant General Manager with the Raptors and the current Director of Athletics at McMaster University. Rautins is the first Canadian to be drafted in the first round of the NBA draft and is currently a Raptors broadcaster. Meeks is a former Canadian basketball player, having played with team Canada.
To put the icing on the cake, people who had attended the event were treated to some sweet dunks by Jus Fly.
“Crazy. Insane. Amazing. Vince Carteresque.” These are the type of statements people had to say after witnessing the proclaimed ‘World’s Best Dunker’.
Finally on March 15, being the “crème de la crème” of the CIS men’s basketball tournament, it’s only natural that the same could be said regarding the events that were lined up that day.
To start off the star-studded line up of events, people got to meet with Butch Carter, former head coach of the Raptors from 1997-1998 to 1999-200, and the first man to coach the Raptors into the playoffs.
People then, once again, got to awe at the dunking beast that is Jus Fly.
Last but not least, everyone who attended also got the opportunity to take a picture with the very trophy that NBA players and fans alike dream of winning — the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Many at the event had lined up to get a chance to take a picture with the Larry O’Brien Trophy. I got the chance to speak with a fellow fan.
“Getting a picture was great,” fan Zackary Carlos said. “This is my first time ever seeing it in person, so that’s cool. Maybe one day we’ll have one on display at the Air Canada Centre.”