On Tuesday, April 4 members of the St. Mary’s University Lightning basketball program partnered with members from Tsuut’ina Junior & Senior High school to host a basketball clinic for students of the school.

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“We have been building our relationship with Tsuut’ina in many ways and when I reached out about these basketball clinics everyone agreed right away,” said Michelle Scott, Director of Indigenous Initiatives at St. Mary’s University. “It’s super cool, there was a lot of excitement around the idea. Basketball is a sport that is well supported and it is very popular, so activities like this is are a really great way to build community.”

Sports offer a way to connect, they are universal games and it is this sense of coming together and community that Lightning men’s basketball head coach Nathan Ruff, who was one of the instructors during the clinic, believes will have the largest impact going forward.

“Sports provide a common goal, a common game where everyone’s objective is the same and it doesn’t matter who this person is or who that person is because you’re all playing together” said Ruff. “I think sports bring people together and unites people.”

Ruff was extremely encouraged by the reception from the students of Tsuu T’ina Junior & Senior High.

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“Getting to do something like this is awesome,” said Ruff. “When you get these kids – who want to be part of it, who want to play and want to have fun I think it’s great to be able to include them. At the end of the day it’s all about inclusion.”

Ruff, along with Lightning women’s head coach Steve Shoults led the students in some basketball fundamental drills, but it was Lightning men’s basketball players Issac Amsing and Jordan Britton who stole the show.

“I am so proud of the guys who came out, they played and had fun,” said Ruff. “It was Isaac and Jordan who made the clinic, they made it fun for the kids. The kids were so energized and so excited. To watch these two players be great citizens and ambassadors for our school was huge.”

“It speaks volumes about the program and what we’re trying to do at St. Mary’s, not just in basketball. To have people recognize the importance of what things like this mean.”