Stealth set for T.O. launch

ALISON KORN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

Attention sports fans, a new team is coming to the Toronto sports landscape this spring -- women's semi-professional basketball. And anyone who grumbles that the game is not as fast as the Raptors is missing the point.

That's because the Toronto Stealth is not being marketed toward people who want to do something on a Saturday night. Rather, team owner Matt Slan is hoping to attract families, parents and developing players to the games.

"I'm not concerned about people who won't come to my game because it's not a fast-paced game, which it is going to be," Slan said. "I want to help develop the sporting landscape and show these are real people who are pursuing their professional careers. I'm very passionate about it."

Slan, 26, is a young guy with a dream. He works evenings at Rogers Sportsnet writing scripts and packaging highlights, and by day pursues his passion, this business. He graduated from Dalhousie University just two years ago. While representing a female basketball player last year, he heard of the opportunity to expand the league to Toronto. Now, he has the franchise and has signed Ryerson University coach Richard Dean as well as nine Canadian university and college all-stars.

"It's pretty crazy how things have snowballed, but this is what I've been passionate about since I was a baby," Slan said. "I wake up every day as early as I can and do as much as I can on my business, because truth be told, this business pumps blood through my veins."

The Stealth is the first Canadian expansion team of the Women's Blue Chip Basketball League, a semi-professional league that launched in Texas in 2005. Toronto will play in a division that includes Detroit, Flint, Cleveland and Montreal.

The league's mission is to provide highly competitive basketball for women age 20 and older. The competition level varies from former college or professional players to current international players. In addition, the league has built a networking relationship with scouts and agents to broaden the possibility of higher-level professional jobs being offered.

The Stealth's first player signed was Kimberly Lee. A former high school standout in the GTA, Lee plays for the Waterloo University Warriors. Next signed was Nicki Schutz, an Etobicoke Collegiate grad now playing for the University of Toronto. Two other team members, Jodie Ebeling and Kerri Jilesen, have played professionally in Europe.

Teams play 10 games over an 11-week period. The Stealth is partners with Ryerson University and the Bishop Strachan School. It will play its home games on Saturday evenings from May to August at Ryerson University's Kerr Hall Gymnasium and will make its home debut May 16, 2009 at 7 p.m.

The Stealth also will present a showcase game against the National Elite Development Academy (Canada's Under-19 national team), on May 10 at 2 p.m. at the Bishop Strachan School.

For more information, schedules and ticket info visit www.slansportsmanagement.com.

Hopes raised

The International Baseball Federation's quest to align itself with women's baseball in a bid to get back in to the Olympics has raised the hopes of local players.

The Canadian women's national baseball team won a silver medal at last year's Women's Baseball World Cup in Japan. Two national women's team players passed out information on girls' baseball at the Blue Jays game last night.

"I think everyone's just being cautiously optimistic," said Burlington's Samantha Magalas, 27, a national team member since 2004. "We've been waiting for it for a long time."

The Central Ontario Girls Baseball League (www.cogbl.com) wants to recruit more girls to play in the younger levels.

In addition to the girls' league, a team comprised of many of the top women players competes in the Toronto Baseball Association's men's midget division.


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