The Winnipeg Swoosh have been a fixture on the Manitoba college scene
for the past four years.  This club team of women student athletes from
the University of Winnipeg and U of Manitoba has compiled a 25-3 record
this year against college teams from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, North
Dakota and Minnesota.  How did a local club team end up playing
community college teams from all over the Canadian and US Prairie?  Basketball Manitoba took some time to talk with team manager Michael Weinrath to
find out.


How did you come up with the idea of the Swoosh?

The Swoosh started as a WMBA Spring Senior District team in 2003.  I knew a number of excellent players graduating with my daughter in 2003 likely wouldn’t make the Wesmen or Bisons, or would red-shirt or sit on the bench if they did get on the team.    So, I approached Curt Warkentin, Commissioner of the Central Plains Athletic Association to see if they had room for a club team.  The CPAC wanted more local games, so they approved the Swoosh so long as they were student athletes.  I found Glenn Matsumoto to coach (another ex-WMBA guy), and away we went.

Was the Swoosh easy to organize?

No, it was quite challenging.  Getting games were easy, our first year we booked into division one senior women, and had eight games in CPAC.  But we struggled to get a team together.  There were lots of players out there, but the mindset you fight against is that if I can’t play Wesmen or Bisons, there is nothing for me, and people have already moved on.  In Alberta and BC, there are over 20 different community college teams. In Alberta and BC by grade 11 kids are already thinking about playing college basketball as a plan B or even A. 


Recruiting was tough.  We found a lot of good players were taking too many courses, working a lot part-time, or just weren’t ready to think again about basketball.  Players would come to practice and then drop out because there was too much commitment.  We hunted for gym time.  Despite all of those challenges, we got it done.  Glenn stepped in at the last minute to coach when someone else backed out.  Our core of players stuck with us, and the first season ended up fine. 

The attitude towards playing after high school is changing, I think.  Young women are looking more to CIS opportunities in Brandon with the capable Jamie Hickson coaching there. Locally, CPAC colleges have good coaches who are offering stronger women’s programs: Canadian Mennonite University with Keith Michaelson, Red River College with Chris Chartier and Providence with Graham Bodner.  We have a Junior Wesmen men’s team at UW that plays a schedule similar to Swoosh, and might add a women’s team at some point.

What kind of players are on the Swoosh?

We always have a mix of University of Winnipeg and University of Manitoba students.  They come from high schools all over Winnipeg: Dakota, River East, Glenlawn, CJS, FRC, St. John’s, John Taylor, Elmwood, Springs Christian, and rural schools like Carmen.  We have ex-CIS Bisons and ex-college players from BC.  Most of our players played provincial team in high school. Our players are usually excellent students who work, take courses and play basketball.  We practice twice a week and our schedule, with trips to the States, gets quite busy.  School always comes first, but we tell the women we have to practice to compete with college players who practice every day. 

Our players are also distinguished by their love of basketball.  These girls make time fro the Swoosh because they love to play.  We are a club team so the players end up having to cover their own expenses.  A few hundred dollars per player isn’t much (we think) for the 25- 30 games we play every year.  Like most club teams, we keep the costs minimal through volunteer effort.

You have a great record this year, were you always this successful?

Yes and no.  Our first year went well.  Division one senior women’s had a lot of ex-University players and it was very competitive, but we won the gold in overtime.  We went 7-1 in CPAC, finished first that year.  Next year we did well in senior women’s and CPAC but started playing tougher US teams from North Dakota and Minnesota, and got beat handily.  Our third year we were more competitive but kept losing close games to Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Americans.  Also, Providence had a great CPAC team that beat us. 

This year it all came together.  We had a core of fourth year players, added some former CIS players, and have had a great year.  I am most proud of our 7-3 record against the US.  They love to beat Canadians, it was nice to turn the tables.

Have any of your players gone on to play college or CIS?

After a year with the Swoosh, my daughter Jill played college ball in BC for two years, and we have had some of our players go on to play at CMU and Red River.  But for me, the development thing is just a bonus.  College basketball is pretty high caliber, I just wanted to provide an opportunity for top players to keep playing. 

How did you keep your program going for four years?

You have to commend Glenn Matsumoto and the core of players like Stacey Matsumoto, Sandy Penner, and Tamara Waite who stuck with the program.    It was tough the first year, and we got pounded in some of our early matches with the Americans.  We added Rick Symonds, a former provincial team coach two years ago, and every year we have picked up a few more elite players.  Sarah Yip, a former player, came on as a coach this year.  Glenn and Rick and their crazy pressing defences have helped us evolve from a small club squad to a team with a reputation north and south of the border.  This year we actually had to cut some pretty good players.

What is ahead for the Swoosh?

The Swoosh are looking like they will be back for one more year.  Who knows, we may see other local club teams come into the fold after their core players finish high school.  But there are more options for players these days.  Brandon has become a stronger CIS option, CPAC programs are stronger, and the Junior Bison and Junior Wesmen programs are pretty close to evolving into senior programs involving UW and U of M students in college level basketball.  The CPAC will soon send teams to Canada’s national tournament (take that Alberta and BC), so the basketball options for young people in Manitoba have never been brighter.

For more information on the Swoosh, visit their website at


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