The stage is set. The weather has calmed down. The McLeod Series is finally back in the southeast.
After a hiatus last year and poor weather conditions set the Series back an extra week, the teams are getting ready for another showdown on the court. The rivalry runs so deep, that Jessie Smoliak has compared it to a provincial matchup between Estevan and Weyburn.
"It's a different type of competition, for sure! Much more exciting than just a tournament game. If we were to see Weyburn, the competitiveness is always there. It's just a different level of competition with these games because we play in front of our school, with our home fan, and we play for our community as well."
Smoliak has been the coach of the Senior Girls Basketball Team for the Estevan Comprehensive School for years. She's excited to welcome the community back to the historic contest. While the players have been busy getting ready, Smoliak is reluctant to share any of the team's preparations. "Oh, I'd be giving away some secrets if I were to tell you that. You'll just have to come out and watch the teams play tonight," she expressed.
"Seeing our gymnasium packed for the Series, it's always so nice to see the support for our student athletes with the amount of community members who do attend."
After last year's pause on the Series, one of the reminders she has for the community is sportsmanship. Smoliak told DiscoverEstevan that the players, coaches and referees are local and that the Series are still high school basketball games.
"Please know that there will be a spectator conduct to be followed, authorized by our High School Athletic Association. A reminder that fans must cheer showing their support for their team, not disrespect the opponents. Noise makers are not allowed at the games. Lastly, fans must remember to respect the property of the school and the authority of the school officials."
It's an exciting time for the student athletes, she notes, and that faculty would be remiss if they had to pull the plug on the match-up again.
The McLeod Series kicks off at 5:30 p.m. at the Estevan Comprehensive School, with the boys' basketball teams meeting first and the girls' basketball teams to follow.