Holland College’s men’s basketball team dominated the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association championship for seven consecutive years.
But this race ended in the 2019-2020 season. The Hurricanes lost in the semifinals of the championship tournament just before it was canceled due to COVID-19.
With a return to the game this fall after a canceled 2020-21 season, the team hopes to regain regional champion status. They got off to a good start after beating Mount Saint Vincent University 108-82 on Saturday.
But the team wants more than an Atlantic banner.
Head coach Josh Whitty has said winning at the national level is a goal.
“It’s been our focus here as a program for several years, and we definitely want to be back on this scene,” Whitty said.
He said his team this year is resilient and hardworking. He believes they are up to the challenge of winning a national title.
Competitive basketball break
The period of a year away from college sports has been a revelation for everyone, said Whitty.
“As a competitive athlete or competitive coach, you can often take the next season for granted. I don’t think anyone is doing that here now.”
Spencer Rossiter, a Holland College player in Summerside, agrees with his coach. He said being away from competitive basketball made him cherish more.
“It makes you appreciate the whole process,” he said.
Rossiter, a shooting guard, joined the team this year. He is a former Provincial Playoff MVP at Three Oaks High School.
He said he was excited to play college basketball at home.
“They [Holland College] came to see me earlier this year and being from PEI I have worked with Josh Whitty through Basketball PEI for the past three years. So I was able to build a relationship with them. “
He hopes to develop his game this season and keep the team’s winning tradition alive, Rossiter said.
“My personal goal this year is really to develop myself and become a better player and adapt to this level of competition,” he said.
Losing the Atlantic title “below standards”
Another goalie, Logan Rempel, returns to the squad for his final year. He said not winning the Atlantic Championship last year was below team standards.
“We’ve won seven championships before that so I think the goal was definitely to win another one,” he said. “Being eliminated in the semifinals, an overtime game, was heartbreaking. “
Being away from competitive basketball was tough for him and most of his teammates, he said.
“It was really tough. It was such a big part of everyone’s life and it kind of took it away from us.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions earlier in the year, new hires and former teammates didn’t have much time to bond or train together, Rempel said. However, they are doing well so far and can only get better, he said.
As for the team’s goal of winning regionally and nationally, he is optimistic.
“We’ve had a lot of guys with different experiences across the [U.S.] and in Ontario and the mentality is definitely there so far, ”he said.
“If we can keep this going throughout the year, we’re going to be pretty scary.”