October 14 will not only mark the beginning of the 2016-17 campaign for both Dawson Blues’ Men and Women Division 1 basketball teams, but also the first time they will cross paths with their bitter rivals: the Vanier Cheetahs.
The rivalry between Dawson and Vanier is arguably one of the biggest in CEGEP sports, and makes for some of the most exciting and enthralling matches Montreal basketball has to offer. Although a lot of people know of the tension between the Blues and the Cheetahs, many may not know its origins and what it represents for the people directly involved.
Playing Against Vanier is Vital
When asked what the Dawson-Vanier rivalry meant to him, third year guard Helio Noel’s answer was pretty straight forward: “Redemption”, he said. “Last year, Vanier beat us both times we played against them. We dropped a game on our own floor and dropped another in-front of their crowd. Those losses were tough to deal with and having them defeat us is never a good feeling. That is why our first game against them this season is so important.” In two games against the Cheetahs last season, the men’s Division 1 team lost both games by considerable margins: the first match resulted in a 71-53 loss; the second, in a defeat by the score of 71-51.
While the men were bested by Cheetahs in both their matches last season, the women’s Division 1 team won both their games against Vanier in a convincing manner. In their first meeting, the lady Blues dismantled the Cheetahs in a 68-39 victory. In their second bout, the Dawson women obliterated the Vanier team, putting up a whopping 90 points in a 90-53 win.
Despite the emphatic wins last season against their perennial rivals, Sorelle Ineza, a first year Dawson student playing guard, about to make her debut for the women’s basketball team, still believes that these matches remain very meaningful saying, “That the rivalry visibly means something for the older players and the coaches. Although I do not know how all of this started, I can tell just by the way my coaches speak about Vanier that these bouts are different. It seems to go back far.”
And far it goes back indeed. Farid Charles, assistant coach of the women’s Division 1 team, shed some light on the origins of the infamous rivalry: “The Dawson-Vanier rivalry came about sometime during the ‘80s, when current Division 1 coaches Trevor [Williams] and Wayne [Yearwood] used to play. What it was is that the players who were around the downtown area, like Trevor, who grew up in Little Burgundy, went to play for Dawson, while the St-Laurent kids committed to Vanier. Having played each other during high school, these players carried with them their competitiveness to the collegiate level. In a way, it became something territorial. A classic East meets West.”
The Dawson-Vanier thrilling rivalry is more than just two teams that are used to playing against each other. With over 30 years of history behind it, this rivalry transcends generations and carries with it an abundance of meaning all the more different for each person. For some it may be redemption. For others, it may be something geographical. Nonetheless, it is interesting to see that rivalry is still strong today knowing that it has been around for decades. With young studs and basketball hopefuls taking part in these matches every year, it is safe to say that this tradition will live on for many more years to come.
Both the Blues’ Division 1 team’s season and home openers will take place on October 14 in the Tony Proudfoot Gymnasium. This double header against Vanier will be kicked off by the women’s’ game at 7 PM. This will be followed by the men’s match at 9 PM.