Stewart entering last home weekend with WolfPack

MARK HUNTER / Kamloops Daily News
February 3, 2011 01:00 AM


reg Stewart's name should endure the test of time in the TRU WolfPack and Canada West University Athletic Association men's basketball record books.

The same can be said for Stewart himself, although there were times when he didn't think he would make it.

Stewart is set to play his last home games when the WolfPack plays host to the Victoria Vikes on Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m. TRU (4-16) will finish the regular season against the UBC Thunderbirds in Vancouver on Feb. 11 and 12.

Stewart, a South Kamloops grad, is a reminder of where the WolfPack started, and, he hopes, an indication of where it is headed.

His post-secondary career started in 2004-05, when the team was known as the UCC Sun Demons. After the Sun Demons won the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association title in 2005, the team became the WolfPack, and Stewart helped the team into its first season (2005-06) of CIS basketball.

He stepped away for two seasons, but returned in 2008-09 and played the last three seasons with the WolfPack. In his five seasons, he has seen three head coaches - Nevin Gleddie for the first two, Thom Gillespie for the next two, and Scott Clark this season.

And, for the emotional Stewart, this weekend will be tough - mostly because of the difficulties he endured in his career, and especially this season.

"This is going to definitely mean something to me," says Stewart, 24. "It's been a challenging season for me - new coaching, the dedication and commitment . . . it's been tough.

"I've tried to quit this team three times already this season, and the fact that I'm going to make it through it is a huge accomplishment."

Stewart is not your typical basketball player. At 7-foot-2, he's a giant in a world of tall men.

He also plays with a prosthetic arm - he was born without a left arm below the elbow - but it hasn't made him any less effective.

It's likely because of his perseverance that he will go down in history as one of the best players to ever come through TRU.

"I'm the big man that can," says Stewart, who plans to complete his bachelor of business administration in human resources next year. "My saying has always been, 'The one-armed man can,' but now I'm an adult."

The numbers Stewart has put up are mind-boggling.

Despite only playing four seasons in Canada West, he will finish his career as the conference's all-time leader in average blocked shots (currently 2.00), second in overall blocks (163), third in double-doubles (30), and in the top-10 in both rebounds (700) and defensive rebounds (480).

He also holds the single-game records for most rebounds (26, on Nov. 27 against the host Fraser Valley Cascades) and defensive rebounds (20, on Nov. 27), and has blocked seven shots on three occasions, leaving him tied for second.

He also has the chance to break a few single-season records in the coming weeks.

He is only 22 defensive rebounds back of the all-time single-season record, and is 11 blocks behind Myron Dean of the Manitoba Bisons, who had a record 56 blocks in 2008-09, the same season Stewart had 51, the second-highest total. Stewart also has the fourth-highest total (43).

Also, if he were to achieve double-doubles in each of the next four games, Stewart would tie Saskatchewan's Andrew Spagrud, who had 16 in 2006-07.

But the one that means the most to Stewart is overall rebounding - right now, he has 254, seven back of Steve Atkin, who set the record while with the Calgary Dinos in 1980-81. Stewart, who will end having played four more games than Atkin, is hoping to shatter the record.

"I'm trying to break 300 rebounds," he says. "If I can get that in Canada West, it would be huge. I'm at 254, four games left - 11.5 a game."

All of this should be at the heart of Stewart's legacy, as well as being the winner of the 2009-10 Canada West defensive player of the year, but he looks elsewhere.

"You look 10 years from now, I'm not going to see myself, but I'm going to see our team," Stewart says.

"Getting a new record (four victories) and the culture and attitude changing in this past year - I'm going to be part of that legacy, and that's what's exciting."

Of course, victories would be nice on Stewart's last weekend, but he would also like to see some new fans at the WolfPack's games.

"I would love to see people that I've maybe made a difference in their lives," Stewart says. "With my arm and stuff - if there's anybody out there who's never witnessed someone playing with a disability, it might be the last chance for me.

"I'd love to see little ones with disabilities."

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onnor Agnew and Tim Unaegbu also will be suiting up at home for the last time on Friday and Saturday.

Agnew, a Prince Rupert native, has spent the last five seasons playing guard for the 'Pack, while Unaegbu, who is from Port Coquitlam, started playing basketball and soccer in 2006-07, but only returned to the basketball court in the fall - he played a full five seasons of soccer.

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ayla Forsyth is the lone TRU women's basketball player saying farewell to the TCC this weekend.

Forsyth, a guard from Vernon, will graduate following TRU's road set in Vancouver on Feb. 11-12.

TRU's women are scheduled to play host to the Vikes on Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m.

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t's a busy home weekend for the WolfPack athletics department - along with its basketball doubleheaders, the volleyball teams also will be at home to the Winnipeg Wesmen.

TRU's women (2-12) will be playing out the string against the Wesmen (4-10), who still have a slim shot at playoffs.

The matches, on both Friday and Saturday, are to start at 1 p.m.

The WolfPack men (5-9) will try to lock down a playoff spot for the fifth straight season. They can do so with a pair of victories over the Wesmen (2-12).

Friday and Saturday's matches are scheduled for 2:45 p.m.

Both TRU volleyball squads will be home to UBC on Feb. 11 and 12.

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