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Valley Journal Advertiser - 2021-11-23

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A long time coming

BASKETBALL

JASON MALLOY VALLEY JOURNAL ADVERTISER jason.malloy@saltwire.com @JasonMa47772994

A Wolfville native is playing a big role in bringing professional basketball to the Annapolis Valley. Tim Kendrick is the president of the newly formed Eastern Canadian Basketball League. The league announced the Valley Vipers as its fourth team during a news conference Nov. 17. They will play out of the Kings Mutual Century Centre in Berwick. “For me, this is a thrill to be here,” Kendrick told the crowd during the announcement. “When I was young ... there was no such thing as pro basketball in Canada at that point ... “Now we have the (Toronto) Raptors and now we’re going to have our own professional basketball league right here in the Maritimes.” Kendrick said it is a long time coming for the Annapolis Valley, which has a population of about 125,000 people. “We can have professional sports here too,” he said. Kendrick, a member of the Horton High School Sports Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach, said the Valley is a big sports community, particularly basketball, and he believes people will support the new team and league. “To have their own pro franchise, right here in the Annapolis Valley, and situated right here in Berwick, which is kind of a midpoint in the Valley, I think people will come from both ends,” he said. “I think the Vipers are going to be one of the most popular — if not the most popular — teams in the Eastern Canadian Basketball League.” Berwick Mayor Don Clarke said it was an economic boost for the Valley to have pro basketball coming to the region. He said Kendrick’s involvement gives the league credibility in the community from the start. “Tim is a known quantity and has been successful in the world of basketball.” The Vipers join the Truro Tide, Saint John Union and Summerside Slam in the new league, which is expected to play a season that begins in March and ends in June. The league has contracts out with seven more Maritime communities to join the circuit. Kendrick said 400 players have already applied to play in the league and it has held one combine in Los Angeles. Kendrick said the league also wants to be connected with the communities in which they play by visiting schools and Boys and Girls clubs and helping local programs. “We’re going to do a lot for the communities we’re in.” Kendrick was joined at the announcement by Windsor native Lonnie States, who will serve as the league’s community co-ordinator. Kendrick said he anticipates the Kings Mutual Century Centre will hold between 1,500 and 2,000 people with seating on the floor for basketball games. “We’re excited with what’s going to happen here,” he said. Kendrick moved to Charlottetown to coach the UPEI Panthers in 2011 and later guided the Island Storm of the National Basketball League of Canada for three seasons. “I love the Maritimes, but I love the Valley,” said Kendrick, noting he looks forward to visiting the region and watching the support for the team grow. “It’s going to be a thrill to see Valley Vipers gear everywhere.”

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