Jermaine Duke is known for defence on the hardwood, but is ready to showcase his offensive abilities on the ice Saturday night.
The six-foot-six forward with the UPEI basketball team will lace up the blades in the Battle of the Jocks fundraiser.
“I say I am like Gretzky, Crosby. Not to blow my own whistle, (but) I’m all the greats in one,” he told The Guardian Tuesday.
Truth is, Duke never played ice hockey growing up in Toronto. He did play some street hockey, where he traditionally was the goalie.
He played in the inaugural Battle of the Jocks event last year and is excited to be playing again.
“Last year I thought I was going to fall. . . I didn’t fall, I just miraculously landed on the ice,” Duke recalled, choosing his words carefully.
“It was better than I expected,” he said. “I thought I was going to be Bambi, but I did better than some of the other guys.”
The fundraiser sees varsity athletes compete in hockey, basketball and soccer games and skills competitions to raise funds for the P.E.I. chapter of the Children’s Wish Foundation and UPEI’s Passion for Life Award.
The award was created to honour Rene Ayangma, a member of the UPEI men’s soccer team who passed away in 2008.
“Keeping Rene’s memory alive through this award is of grave importance to the Panther community as he showed real dedication to sport and to life,” said Julia McKenna, who is organizing this year’s fundraiser.
“This event is an opportunity for the athletes in the Panther community to interact and to give back to the community who supports us. We could never express our thank you enough to the supporters of our programs but this is a start.”
Colby O’Donnell started the event last year and asked McKenna to spearheaded the organizing this year.
Forty athletes were drafted onto two teams last night.
Dillon Wight and Adam Lowther, both from the soccer team, are captaining one squad while Donnie Moss (basketball) and Matt Maione (hockey) are heading the other team.
The friendly competition will start with a 30-minute soccer match in the field house, followed by a basketball skills competition relay and a dunk contest.
The night will conclude with a hockey game, which is sure to provided a few laughs.
“If you’ve never been on skates before, it’s really difficult to get out there and try to play hockey,” McKenna said.
Duke said he is looking forward to competing against his teammates in various sports.
“No they know they can’t trash talk me,” he said. “I say I will go around them on the ice, like it’s nothing, but they’re all playing it cool.”
Battle of the Jocks
u What: A fundraiser for the P.E.I. chapter of the Children’s Wish Foundation and UPEI’s Passion for Life Award. Forty varsity athletes have been divided into two teams to compete in soccer, basketball and hockey.
u When: Saturday starting at 6 p.m.
u Where: CARI Complex.
u Tickets: Can be purchased for $10 at the Mickey Place Kiosk at the W.A. Murphy Student Centre or from Carol Heartz, UPEI Athletics and Recreation, firstname.lastname@example.org.
u Quote: “It was fun playing with all the guys and doing it for a great cause.” - Jermaine Duke, UPEI basketball.