MWBA - Maritime Womens Basketball Association

Welcome Miramichi Her-icanes!

Big news.

Big news, indeed.

After two years of Original Six teams – with apologies to the National Hockey League – the Maritime Women’s Basketball Association is expanding.

The MWBA will boast seven teams for 2024 when the expansion Miramichi Her-icanes enter the fray in May.

‘We are absolutely ecstatic to see expansion in our league and cannot wait to see all the work our group in Miramichi has done behind the scenes come to fruition this year,’ said MWBA commissioner, Jen McKenzie of Dartmouth. ‘It is a shot of adrenaline for our league and creates an opportunity for even more women to play at a high level, coach and organize. We know the MWBA is going to welcomed with open arms in the Miramichi region.’

McKenzie was on hand Jan. 3 to help make the Her-icanes announcement during halftime of an exhibition university basketball game at Miramichi Valley High School.

The gymnasium was packed and the response strong as the announcement was made following a video promoting the league and city.

Miramichi will use MVHS as its home base.

McKenzie joined Her-icanes’ owner Whitney Henderson, Miramichi executive member Brittany Sullivan and Jim Watters and potential roster players during the announcement.

‘It just felt great to meet all these community-minded and avid basketball supporters in the city,’ McKenzie said. ‘The entire day and night had excitement all around it. Amazing, actually.’

Basketball-mad Miramichi hosted a pre-season MWBA game last spring between Fredericton Freeze and Saint John’s Port City Fog.

The game between two non regional teams attracted a large crowd and also allowed a few local players to suit up for Port City.

Thunderous applause greeted all of the local players last spring including Bailey Black, who was on hand with several other anticipated Her-icanes for the announcement.

Black, who played 51 Atlantic University Sport games with University of New Brunswick Reds, is a remarkably popular personality in Miramichi.

She has played for both the Freeze and Port City during the MWBA’s two seasons, but now she can play at home.

It’s a bit overwhelming for Black, who is now in the teaching profession.

‘I am extremely excited to play in front of my home crowd again,’ she said. ‘Miramichi has always been such a supportive community and there is nothing better than being back to play at Miramichi Valley High. I think that Miramichi is going to overwhelm the MWBA with their supportive crowds and packed gymnasiums. The basketball community in Miramichi has been and is still growing exponentially.’

The pre-season game last spring proved how much interest there is in basketball at all levels on Miramichi.

Thriving youth programs have gymnasium space bursting at the seams at boys and girls’ levels and interscholastic teams have loyal followings in the entire region.

Black experienced first-hand the atmosphere of the league when she played for Fredericton and the Fog.

‘The overall atmosphere of the MWBA is outstanding, but I vividly remember being blown away by the turn out and energy of the crowd in our very first game with the Fredericton Freeze,’ she said. ‘As players, we were amazed by how many came out to support women in basketball and that feeling stayed consistent throughout the entire season. As far as competition goes, you can’t get much better. The women in this league, no matter how long it’s been since they played competitively still have sharp IQ and major passion for the sport.’

Black saluted community leaders like Henderson, Watters, Art Gremley and others who just continue to build the game.

‘There are so many other tireless volunteers helping basketball in the city grow all of the time,’ Black said. ‘I believe we will start to see more and more Miramichi athletes playing post-secondary basketball which means future MWBA stars. You can definitely say Miramichi loves basketball. Last April when Miramichi hosted the Fredericton Freeze and Port City Fog in exhibition play, our community packed the gym and created a phenomenal atmosphere for the two visiting teams.’

Which means Black and her Her-icanes’ teammates – many who will be local – will get that feeling during the 2024 season as hometown players.

‘As a Miramichi player on the floor, I was extremely proud to look out into the crowd and see overflowing bleachers,’ she said. ‘I have absolutely no doubt that Miramichi will embrace the Her-icanes and the MWBA.’

Scheduling information will be released soon for the seven-team league.