Calvin Westbrook




LANGLEY, British Columbia –
The Trinity Western University men’s basketball team will leave Saturday for a week-long preseason trip to China, from Oct 8-15, where they team will play four games against local universities while also focusing on using sport as a means of cultural exchange and relationship building while celebrating the 10-year relationship between TWU and the Tianjin Education Commission

The tour will take the team through Beijing, Tianjin City and Hebei and will see them play Renmin University twice (Oct. 10th and 13th), a local Polytechnic University (Oct. 12) and Hebei University (Oct. 14th).

The trip is, in large part, a way for TWU to celebrate the fact that over the past 10 years, approximately 100 teachers have come from Tianjin City to attend university at the Langley campus as a part of TWU’s Visiting Teachers Program where, for a semester, teachers take university classes and tour local schools. The program has provided this cultural exchange opportunity for little cost to the teachers as a way of helping them learn Canadian culture and our values and to improve their understanding of the English language and Western teaching approaches.

And while the trip will certainly be an opportunity to represent Trinity Western on a grand scale, for the Spartans men’s basketball team – one that has five new players on the roster this year – it’s also a chance to bond as a team in what will essentially be a whirlwind four games in six days tour.

“With a young team like we have, we’re really trying to bond quickly and this will give us a great opportunity to get away and come together as a team,” said Spartans coach Scott Allen. “Collectively it should be a good experience that will help get us ready for the season.

“We’re trying to integrate five new players on this team and that takes time no matter what. This group of kids is new with each other and they’re just learning the tendencies of each other.”

With last year’s star players Jacob Doerksen and Tyrell Mara now graduated, the Spartans are developing a new identity this year both on and off the court and a trip like this will give the squad a chance to gel as a cohesive unit.

“Not a lot of teams get to go on such a trip right before the season starts and I think it’s going to be huge for our chemistry and to set the tone for our season,” said Spartans guard Calvin Westbrook. “It’s going to be really good on the floor as far as building for the season and really good off the floor as far as representing Trinity Western.”

While the Spartans don’t exactly know what they can expect on the court in terms of competition level, Westbrook is certain it won’t be a cakewalk.

“I don’t expect anyone to be a low-level team,” said Westbrook. “I think basketball is really growing in China and this trip is going to be a real challenge for us. I expect there to be some talented big guys because that’s kind of what you see coming out of China these days, especially going to the NBA. So we might see some guys who are high pro level who are really good on the interior and that’ll be a big challenge for us.”

Along with the trip to China, the men’s basketball team, and Trinity Western University as a whole, will be the focus of a 45-minute documentary to be shown on CCTV-5, which is the sports channel for China Central Television.  The documentary will emphasize sport as a means of cultural exchange and will provide a unique opportunity for TWU athletes to reflect the essence of the university in a tangible way both on and off the court.  

A film crew from China came to Trinity Western in late August to build the foundation for the documentary – which included, amongst other things, interviews with Trinity Western president Dr. Jonathan Raymond, the university administration and a look into the on and off campus life of one of the members of the basketball team – and during the Spartans trip to China will finish the filming of the project. The final product will be aired in primetime in late December.

“Our goal is to showcase our education and athletics teams and deepen and widen our relationship with key organizations and universities in China,” said Geoffrey Feng, the director of the TWU Extension International Program.

China Central Television has about 20 channels and is the only Chinese central government broadcasting station. CCTV has over 1 billion viewers, with a small percentage viewing any one channel at any time.

The Spartans have only played two official preseason games this year – a 114-71 loss to Ball State in August and a 108-100 overtime win over Santa Clara in early September – so these four games will go a long way to building the foundation for the upcoming season.

The Spartans open the 2011-12 Canada West regular season Nov. 4-5 when they will host Victoria both Friday and Saturday nights. Friday’s tip-off is at 8:00 p.m. while Saturday’s is at 7:00 p.m.


Last Updated: 2011-10-07
Author: Mark Janzen