The Toronto Raptors playoff success is having a big impact on the sport in Wood Buffalo.
The team has been the talk of the country and it’s been no different for Northern Trailblazers Basketball, Fort McMurray’s only community league.
Director of Junior Programs and House League Rachel Ivey tells Mix News the Raptors are the first, middle, and last talking points at all their practices and games.
She says before they would be mentioned occasionally, however, since this year more and more kids have taken an interest in the team.
“I loved the Raptors since I was a kid and to see all these little kids from Fort McMurray, which is so far from Toronto, love the Raptors as much as I did is really special.”
Over 500 kids across Wood Buffalo are a part of the Northern Trailblazers. Their numbers have seen a big rise over the past few years.
Ivey believes it’s quite possible there will be a big spike in their September registration.
“People are taking notice of basketball as a sport that means something in this country.”
Win or lose, Ivey believes the Raptors playoff run has left a mark on Wood Buffalo and across the country.
She suggests basketball may one day even become the most popular sport in Canada surpassing hockey.
“Kids can practice at so many different outdoor courts in this community and they all have friends that live in their neighbourhoods – it’s really a accessible sport and we really like to pump that to families because if you don’t have a lot of money you can play basketball and be really good at basketball.”
The Northern Trailblazers, like many communities, have also held their own Jurassic Park viewing parties. This includes Game 6 where the Raptors have a chance to win their first championship.