MWBA - Maritime Womens Basketball Association

Off-Season? Not With MWBA

The dust settled, the curtain came down.

But the act is not over for the Maritime Women’s Basketball Association when it comes to planning.

Year III may be in the books, but that means only one thing…Year IV beckons.

A second consecutive Pro*Line Stadium Legacy Cup championship was awarded to Halifax Thunder on June 23 and there has been time to absorb what was a fascinating season for the MWBA.

The work begins now for 2025.

‘It’s safe to say we all took time to reflect on what an outstanding season we had on and off the court this year and as our league continues to grow, we cannot sit idle until next spring,’ said commissioner Jen McKenzie of Dartmouth, NS. ‘So many people put so much effort into the MWBA. You could write a book on the supporting crew behind the league that allows our women to play at such a high level in such a safe environment. Our financial partners, coaches, managers, athletic therapists and so many more all add up to the excitement we have witnessed the past three years.’

The MWBA spent its first two seasons as a six-team league.

The Original Six consisted of Thunder, Halifax Hornets, Windsor (NS) Edge, Fredericton Freeze, Port City Fog of Saint John and Moncton Mystics. The Edge left the Nova Scotia valley region for Dartmouth/Cole Harbour in 2024 where it became the Lake City 56ers, the team that fell in the final to Thunder after a successful initial season in its new surroundings.

Miramichi Her-Icanes blasted onto the MWBA stage and had a tremendous season on the court and at the gate, taking the basketball mad city by storm as the league increased to seven teams.

‘It was fantastic to see the success Lake City had with its re-brand and relocation and Miramichi upped the league in terms of game day presentation, social media and fan experience,’ said McKenzie. ‘We look at Thunder’s program, the Hornets, Fredericton, Port City and Moncton and see such amazing consistency, such staples in their communities after only three years. Each and every team – and our executive for that matter – face challenges during the season and building toward another season. It’s the people involved who make this work. Community-minded people out knocking on doors. Our players certainly appreciate what’s being presented to them. That is reflective in just how competitive our league has become.’

McKenzie finisher her first season as commissioner.

It was a baptism by fire as she learned the ropes, buoyed by the fact she was involved with the MWBA as an official prior to taking the reins. Joined by social marketing whiz and vice president Anna Lee LeBlanc of Moncton – now living in Ontario – and Saint John-based secretary Lori Wall and treasurer Jeff White, McKenzie kept a steady stream of notes to keep momentum moving.

‘I accepted the role of commissioner with the understanding I have a long background in athletics and in the basketball world, but this was new to me,’ she said. ‘The teams and executive all had so much patience as the learning curve was steep when you step into a leadership role. I learned a ton this past season. It was fantastic really seeing the inner-workings of the MWBA and how much work goes into it leading into that final game.’

McKenzie’s executive will have a new look in 2025.

LeBlanc takes her passion and knowledge into the business world as she leave school behind. White has served three seasons with the MWBA and is anticipating stepping back from his duties. McKenzie is hoping Wall and her experience in the basketball world remains.

‘The amount of work my executive teammates put in from the off-season through the end of year is nothing short of amazing,’ McKenzie said. ‘These are volunteers putting heart and soul and more importantly, their personal time, into helping the MWBA. I look at Anna Lee and just smile with the world in front of her waiting to tackle her next project. Imagine being a vice-commissioner without fear at 22-years-old? Amazing. Jeff took over mid-way through our first year and helped navigate our financial waters. We wish him nothing but the best and he will still be watching our games. Lori joined us this season and with her teaching and basketball backgrounds, there’s a mountain of advice waiting to be tapped.’

As the off-season ramps up, it is expected the MWBA’s sport and entertainment company will be in pursuit of more financial partners. Sports & Entertainment Atlantic (S|E|A) out of Halifax has been with the league since day one, landing founding partners Royale and Medavie in 2022. Those three-year deals expired at the end of this year’s playoff season, but McKenzie is hopeful both major companies return.

Pro*Series Stadium came on in 2024 as presenting partner of the Legacy Cup and Cushman Wakefield has been a key business partner along with Support 4 Sport in Nova Scotia.

‘All of our teams knock on doors and reach out to potential partners in their own backyards and that community support is what allows our teams to keep returning,’ said McKenzie. ‘Our major partners are what allows the league to remain viable and vibrant. Every league yearns for consistency and sustainability. We understand the economics of where we are in 2024 and if a company wants to be invested, it has to know the MWBA is worth that hard-earned support. We feel we will continue to grow and that’s a good sign.’

Speaking of growth, there is interest in expansion for 2025.

A Nova Scotia entity met with MWBA officials during Legacy Cup weekend and has expressed a desire to join the league.

At least one Prince Edward Island interest has reached out to the league.

‘We hope to see expansion next season to at least eight teams and through some initial takes with league owners, the interest is certainly reciprocal,’ McKenzie said. ‘One step at a time is our motto, but we’re walking toward more growth. We are in for an exciting off-season.’