An amazing inaugural season at the gate
"Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna' take ya.’ Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama. . ."
I am totally ready to help the Summerside Storm recruit players for next year. For those of you under the age of 75, and unfamiliar with their 'oeuvre' as we like to say, those words open the Beach Boys' famous anthem, Kokomo.
The Storm has already scheduled combine workouts in Baltimore, Memphis and the Bahamas, looking to upgrade their roster for the 2012-1013 season.
Joe Salerno and the rest of the coaching staff can handle Baltimore and Memphis (Graceland notwithstanding), but I absolutely am willing to assist in the Bahamas. I would even extend to Aruba if forced to.
I am selflessly volunteering right now to look for basketball players all over the beaches, in the coconut bars, and even in the first few feet of the Caribbean. Coaches can handle the gyms. I'll cover everything else.
With the sounds of the last basketball bouncing on the hardwood still faintly echoing, the Storm is assertively moving into the off-season with a flurry of activity.
The first event is their March Break camp, which will feature real live Storm players in addition to coaches. Club co-owner Duncan Shaw confirmed last night that Doug McKinney and Chris Cayole for sure would join Joe Salerno at the March 19 to 22 camp at Three Oaks Senior High School in Summerside, which is designed for players in Grades 3 to 6 (morning) and Grades 7 to 10 (afternoon).
What an opportunity, to be exposed to a coach of the calibre of Salerno, a player like McKinney, who is an example that Islanders can legitimately dream big, and a shooter like Cayole.
Cayole will then join teammate Mike Williams at the inaugural National Basketball League of Canada All-Star Weekend in Halifax. It's a mark of the respect in which the league's coaches hold Cayole that he was selected as one of the league's top 20 players, despite the fact that he spent most of 2012 as a cheerleader for the Storm because of injury.
In looking back this week on the Storm's first season, Shaw said his primary feeling was of being rushed in everything they did, right from the start to the end.
"Everything was new, and we always seemed to be in catch-up mode, both on the floor and even more so with our community outreach activities," he said. "I'm really looking forward to having a full off-season of preparation, and then having our feet on the ground right from the start of next season."
From this observer's perspective, the Storm did everything perfectly off the court, and were competitive enough on the floor to make the games exciting every night, despite the fact that they couldn't seem to finish the matches with a win no matter what they tried.
Third in attendance
Summerside was third in the league in attendance behind Halifax and London. Read that sentence again. That's an amazing achievement.
Selling out the last two home games when they were out of the playoffs was shockingly wonderful.
But maybe their biggest achievement was the fact that, because of the Storm, so many people in Charlottetown finally learned how to get to Summerside. Apparently there's two-way traffic on that road.
See you next season!
Bob Gray is a freelance journalist with a long history of P.E.I. basketball reporting. He welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.