UTM was granted membership status by the OCAA this past Tuesday at the annual meeting of the athletic directors. UTM is now off probation since beginning their ride within the OCAA last September, and are now eligible for Varsity expansion next year to men’s and women’s basketball.

With UTM now playing at an even more competitive level in basketball, they are marketing their brand as a formidable Eagles team. Last year, UTM’s men’s soccer team made a huge immediate impact within the OCAA, making it deep into the playoffs in only their inaugural season and setting the landscape for a prosperous athletic future.

“Our men’s varsity basketball coaches are hitting high school tournaments, and the women’s coaches were at the AAA OFSAA high school finals this past weekend, scouting for athletes for next year,” says athletics program coordinator, Jack Krist. “The athletic directors also approved a new playoff structure for basketball that will see eight teams from the East and eight from the West advance to a crossover in the first round, with the eight winners advancing to the provincial championships.”

This news comes at a time when the official press releases were announced for who will be coaching the men’s and women’s basketball teams next year. Salee Johnson-Edwards will be at the helm for the women’s squad in 2017-2018, while Nkosi Adams will lead and mentor the men’s teams.

Johnson-Edwards has been the head coach of the women’s development league basketball team since 2013. Her team did tremendously well last season, going 6-5 in the regular season and making it to the championship game. This year, the women are undefeated, and look to avenge their finals loss and become the formidable team to beat. Johnson-Edwards comes from a wealth of previous experience—she was the assistant coach with the Fordham University women’s basketball team in New York, and before that worked as an assistant coach for another American NCAA school, Monmouth University, where she helped coach the team to a 23-10 record.

As an athlete, Johnson-Edwards was a four-year member of the University of New Hampshire varsity basketball team, graduating in 2007 with a degree in journalism. According to the official press release, she said, “I am so pleased to usher in a new era at UTM with the inaugural season for this women’s basketball program. I became a part of this family a few years back with the development team, and it became a huge part of my life.

“This is going to be a special place for any student athlete to play, not only because UTM is a world-class education degree institution, but they will get to be part of writing the history books and changing the culture of the women’s basketball program,” she adds.

UTM athletic director, Ken Duncliffe, is excited to have a coach with as much experience and success as Johnson-Edwards be part of the UTM community and pave the way for more exciting times. “Coach Salee has been a great asset to our current women’s basketball team, and will be a great leader and role model for our athletes and new recruits as they make the jump to the OCAA varsity level,” says Duncliffe.

According to a press release issued by Jack Krist, Nkosi Adams is thrilled with his position in the UTM community, and already has plans for a successful future. “My goal is to build a program that our players, students, faculty, alumni, and community members can all be proud of,” says Adams. “UTM has always had a great reputation in operating intramurals, and I have no doubt the varsity program will achieve the same successes. I feel that my diverse experiences in basketball will assist UTM in launching a successful program as we enter into the OCAA.”

Adams has been a head coach at Pickering High School since 2005. The school has won six consecutive LOSSA Championships. Adams played competitive basketball at Centennial College before beginning his coaching duties with the youth.