“Fear the Cape”: The Cape Breton Highlanders Have Front Row Seat as Pro Basketball Returns to Sydney

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Article / January 9, 2017

Lt Felix Odartey-Wellington, 36 CBG Public Affairs

SYDNEY, N.S. – The Cape Breton Highlanders (CBH) infantry regiment celebrated the return of professional basketball to Cape Breton as honoured guests of namesake Cape Breton Highlanders Basketball at Centre 200, Sydney on December 27, 2016.

The basketball team is a new member of the National Basketball League (NBL) of Canada and draws on the heritage of the Cape Breton highlands as well as Cape Breton’s strong military tradition. Historically, Cape Bretoners have enthusiastically answered the call to serve in the military and are renowned for their fierce fighting spirit in combat.

Tyrone Levingston, President of the team, explained that when he realised the vision of returning pro basketball to Cape Breton after a 22-year absence: “the name ‘Cape Breton Highlanders’ was a no-brainer. My vision was a team that embodies the Cape Breton spirit, pays homage to Cape Breton’s rich military heritage, and would be unique in the spectrum of NBL teams.”

This explains why members of CBH, including the regiment’s popular Pipes and Drums were in attendance during the Cape Breton Highlanders inaugural game against the Halifax Hurricanes at Centre 200. Mr. Levingston’s vision also explains why his team was decked out in a military camouflage-themed strip, and why 93-years young World War II veteran Joe Burke did the tip-off for the game, to a standing ovation.

There’s also an interesting play on words between the team’s motto “Fear the Cape” and CBH’s “Siol Na Fear Fearail,” Gaelic for “Breed of Manly Men.”

Lieutenant-Colonel Russel Gallant, Commanding Officer of CBH, presented a sword to the basketball team to remind them of “their traditional responsibility to Cape Breton.” He said that: “CBH has been part of the community since the nineteenth century and we are excited that Cape Breton Highlanders Basketball projects the heritage of our veterans who made tremendous sacrifices for Canada and its allies. We are also excited to support an initiative consistent with the CAF’s commitment to fitness and a healthy lifestyle.”

Apart from providing the colour party and band for the event, CBH set up an information table for the new CAF Primary Reserve Expedited Enrollment Trial (PREET).

Major Jason Doyle of CBH explained that “PREET is exclusive to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, and aims to speed up the recruitment process for people interested in careers in the CAF. Today was an opportunity to give the public easy access to our recruiting process.”

During half-time, the Cape Breton Highlanders Regiment’s viral “Mannequin Challenge” video played on the giant screens, ending with the question: “Do you have what it takes to be a Highlander?” Maj Doyle hopes the answer will be a big “yes!” over the coming weeks.

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