The Bekkering family has been a staple of the University of Calgary's basketball program for years. The revered Taber, Alberta basketball dynasty produced Anna and Cory Bekkering who both started on the Dinos women's team earlier this decade, with Cory winning the Tracy Macleod Award in 2004-05 in honour of her determination and perseverance after an injury-riddled five-year career and Anna going on to play professionally in Holland after her Dinos career was over. This season, brothers Ross and Henry will continue the Bekkering basketball tradition by suiting up for the Dinos.
Ross Bekkering, a 6'8" forward, was a member of the men's team for the past three seasons. He also played internationally, representing Canada at the Summer Universiade in Thailand Aug. 8-18. Ross will be joined by his 6'6", 235-pound older brother Henry, who played one season of football and two seasons of basketball with the Eastern Washington University Eagles before spending a year in the stands due to a transfer rule. The Dinos will heavily rely on the boys, whose father played basketball in the military, this upcoming season as the Dinos look to devour their competition in Canada West.
"I picked the U of C because I already kind of knew the program because my two older sisters played for the U of C," said Ross. "I knew who [Dinos head coach] Dan [Vanhooren] was, I knew the setup of the University campus, stuff like that. I wanted to stay close to family so I wanted to stay in Alberta. Calgary seemed like a good fit because it's not too close to my hometown. I could still be independent. It seemed like a good choice and I am happy I made [it]."
Family played a similar role in the decision-making for Henry. The Bekkerings have always stressed the importance of family, so it was not surprising to see Henry come back to the Canadian prairies.
"Eastern Washington was good," said Henry of his experience in the NCAA. "It was a lot of fun and stuff but I am glad to be back at the University of Calgary with my brother, being closer to family and friends. It was good times, good atmosphere, but I am glad to be back."
The nature of university sports makes roster turnover a constant issue. The Dinos lost some key veterans last year--such as point guard Josh Feist who led the team in assists and was a valuable source of leadership--meaning the Dinos will need their recruits to step in and fill some the holes. Henry is one of those recruits who will be looked upon to step right in and fill some of them.
"The thing with Henry is that he is a natural leader," said Ross. "He works really well with people. They tend to look up to him and respect him a lot, so naturally he has a lot of leadership qualities. We lost two fifth-year guys last year, but I think Henry will help to fill those shoes and I feel will help our team a lot."
As with any siblings involved in athletics, there is always a chance of rivalry between the two. Despite this, the Bekkerings keep things civil when on the court together.
"Like with any group of brothers, when you are playing against each other you are naturally competitive, especially when you're brought up in that," said Ross. "But no, we're pretty good about it and in games we actually work pretty good together and we're naturally supportive of each other."
Henry agreed with Ross.
"In practices maybe but in a game we're not," he said.
The Dinos have a lot of optimism this year. With the new recruits and everyone else on the roster having one more year of experience, the Dinos have put large expectations on themselves in the upcoming season. After two seasons of consecutive first-round playoff exits, the Bekkerings are set on extending the Dinos season this year.
"I think our goal is to win nationals," said Henry. "If we can get to nationals, that would be a big step for our team and win Canada West but if we can get to nationals, we want to make some noise and hopefully bring back the national championship."
Ross echoed his sentiments.
"I think we can also bring back a little more excitement back to the university, try to get fans and the student body interested," he said. "I think that is one of our goals too."
With their success so far in the pre-season and a surprising win against an NCAA team, this season looks promising for the Dinos. The Bekkerings will be key ingredients in the team's success this season in Canada West and if their family history is any type of indicator, it looks like a strong upcoming season for the boys from Taber.