Two-time U SPORTS men’s basketball Player of the Year Kadre Gray of the Laurentian Voyageurs will carry the Maple Leaf into the Opening Ceremony of the 30th FISU Summer Universiade at San Paolo Stadium Wednesday.
The announcement was made jointly by Ari Grossman, Chef de Mission for Team Canada, along with Alexandra Bugailiskis, Ambassador of Canada to Italy, during Canada Day celebrations at the Hotel Royal Continental in Naples, Italy.
The Opening Ceremony is set for Wednesday, July 3 at 3 p.m. ET / 12 p.m. PT (9 p.m. local). Live streaming coverage will be available on olympicchannel.com and FISU.TV. Gray will carry the Maple Leaf in front of a contingent of more than 300 Canadian student-athletes, coaches, and staff.
“Kadre Gray is an outstanding choice to lead Canada into the Opening Ceremony here in Naples,” said Grossman, a veteran of five previous Universiades. “He personifies success on the court and in the classroom and represents the very best of what U SPORTS has to offer.
“Walking into the stadium at an event like this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all our student-athletes. We know that they will all represent Canada with pride over the next two weeks.”
It’s the latest honour in what has been an outstanding career for the Toronto native, who was crowned the top player in U SPORTS men’s basketball in both 2018 and 2019. The 21-year-old guard was also named the U SPORTS male Athlete of the Year across all sports in 2018 and earned Academic All-Canadian status.
“It’s incredible,” said Gray. “At first I didn’t know the significance of it, but after hearing from my family and seeing the people who have done this in the past, it’s definitely an honour.
“These Games are very well-attended and all that, but I’ve just been sticking to what I’m used to and trying to be levelheaded and composed – and at the end of the day just have fun.
“We are all here and want to get a gold medal, but to enjoy this process too – all of us are coming from different teams and different situations, so enjoying this process together and learning about each other, and representing Canada the best we can.”
In addition to his prowess at the university level, Gray has recently spent time with the senior national team and was part of Canada’s successful qualification for the FIBA World Cup later this summer in China, where the program will attempt to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“I’ve been coaching him for the last three years now, and the dedication he has put into academics and athletics has been unbelievable,” said Shawn Swords, Gray’s coach at Laurentian who is also leading Team Canada’s men’s basketball squad at the Universiade. “As a coach, to watch him continually self-evaluate and see what he needs to work on both in the classroom and the court has been amazing to witness.”
While the biennial celebration of university sport officially opens Wednesday in Naples and the surrounding Campania region, Team Canada’s first competitions are set for Tuesday with diving preliminaries along with the women’s soccer team’s first action as they take on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Women’s water polo also open their tournament with a clash against Japan.