Dunking Down on the Competition: A closer look at the rookies changing our basketball program

group shot of boys basketball team

Waterloo is a community that takes great pride in it’s students amazing accomplishments that range everywhere from co-op positions to academic triumphs. Due to this culture, sports at UWaterloo can sometimes be seen as an underdog in terms of getting the attention it deserves.

Despite our wide variety of varsity sports teams ranging from football to badminton, the school community is notorious for not been very in tune with their fellow athletes. However, this year we witnessed a slightly altered reality with the emergence of three young men who would later be dubbed as the men’s varsity basketball power trio.

Justin Hardy, Nedim Hodzic, and Simon Petrov are three extremely talented individuals who all come from Sir John A. MacDonald, a local high school in the Waterloo Region. Throughout the season they demonstrated, through their uniformity and incredible talent, the hidden potential of the basketball men’s basketball team. They have not only accelerated the men’s basketball program, but ignited a new spark of excitement in UWaterloo’s athletics community and beyond.

 As an avid basketball fan, I was very excited to have the opportunity to sit down and get to know these three individuals.

Q: How did you first get into playing basketball?

Simon: I was around six or seven and I remember one of my neighbours justin hardyhaving a hoop set up in his front lawn. I walked over and we started shooting hoops together and that is basically how my love for the game started.

Justin: I think I was in the second grade and I needed something to keep me active. I really enjoyed basketball so I just pursued it.

Nedim: My dad played basketball so I played casually when I was younger. I didn’t start taking it seriously till I was about 12 or 13 years old but I really enjoyed it so I continued with it.

Q:You guys are all local to Waterloo and went to the same high school. What was it that made you want to come to the University of Waterloo?

S: I was the first to commit to the school. I was considering it highly for a nedim hodziclong time and ultimately decided it was the best decision in terms of not only athletics but also academics

J: The academic draw of the school was huge for me, it was also nice knowing that I would be playing with these two for a little bit longer.

N: I was having a hard time choosing between Ryerson and Waterloo. Ryerson at the time had the better basketball program but ultimately Waterloo offered me everything I was looking for. The school has an amazing engineering program and I got a few more years with these two boys which was really important to me as well.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge so far in balancing academics and basketball?

S: It can be difficult at times. Knowing how to manage your time is super important and prioritising our work.simon petrov

J: Being in math I have a lot of assignments, so making sure I stay on top of all of those while having to accommodate the practice schedule is hard. You definitely do not get to see spend as much time with your family and friends as you would like.

N: Waterloo has an amazing engineering program, [it’s the] main reason I came here, but with almost 30 hours of class and an extremely intense practice schedule it can be very difficult.

Q: What is your hope and vision for the future of this team?

S: Ideally I want to see this team becoming more respected overall in the league and have other teams pay attention to us.

J: I think my main goal is for us to keep improving and growing together as a team every year.

N: I would love it if the team won a national championship.

With a total of 31 regular season games the boys ended the season with more wins than they have in the last two years. Despite this victory, they still have a long way to go in order to reach their goal of a national championship. However, with determination, hard work, and some promising recruits coming in next year, the future is looking bright for our UWaterloo men’s basketball team.  

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