Former University of Regina Cougar, Rob Andrist is excited to see his former basketball team take on the University of Toronto Varsity Blues in his hometown next week.
Andrist, an Estevan native, played for the Cougars alongside the team's current coach Jamie Hillis, in the early '90s. He said the two of them have always talked about the Cougars playing a game here, and he's absolutely thrilled that it has finally come to fruition.
"For me, it's pretty exciting because I played with James and it was something that we had always talked about a long time ago, so it's interesting now that 20 or 25 years later we're actually doing it," said Andrist.
Though the two old friends, who still play together in a masters league in Regina, have been talking about bringing a university game to Estevan for the past few decades, Andrist credits a local group of U of R alumni for actually making it happen.
"There's a couple of people in town; Carl Henneberg and Howard Jesse have been really involved," he said. "They are the ones that have been really instrumental in getting them here."
Andrist feels that basketball is a great game. He says people talk about soccer being "the beautiful game" and of course hockey is the dominant sport here, but Estevan's senior boys' and girls' basketball teams are getting very strong.
"I coached at the Comp. for about 10 years and I've just been amazed at the skill level of the players that are getting up to the high school level now," said Andrist. "That's why these guys coming down now is good timing, because there's kind of a renewed interest."
Hillis is now into his 17th year of coaching the U of R basketball team and according to Andrist, he is a great coach and an excellent leader, and that goes all the way back into his playing days.
"James is a natural leader. He was our captain and all-star player, he's one of those guys that you played with, that you never had to have a vote for who was going to be captain," Andrist said.
"I came from Estevan and I was the only out of town player on that team and he was certainly one of the guys who took me under his wing and made sure that I was all looked after, and I've always really appreciated that."
The game between the Cougars and Varsity Blues will be at Estevan Comprehensive School with a tip-off time of 7 p.m. All proceeds from the game will go towards enhancing basketball in the community of Estevan.
Tickets will be $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. They'll be available at Estevan Comprehensive, Henders Drugs, or by phone at 634-4761.