Gee-Gees vet takes final bow at Capital Hoops Classic.
University of Ottawa men's basketball player Nemanja Baletic plans to go to medical school and hopes to operate his own sports medicine clinic one day following his final season with the Gee-Gees this year.
It’s tough not to get a little nostalgic these days for
Immaculata High School grad Nemanja Baletic, but as the University of Ottawa
health and sports psychology Master’s student’s career winds down with the
University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, he’s doing his best to look ahead instead of
Last week was one of those instances as Baletic played in
his final Capital Hoops Classic when the Gee-Gees gave the Carleton Ravens a
big scare before dropping a 78-65 contest to the top-ranked CIS team in Canada
at Scotiabank Place.
“It’s every boy’s dream to play in front of 10,000 people,”
notes Baletic, a veteran of five Capital Hoops Classics. “And every game right
now is my last everything, but I’m trying to make the best of it, support the
young guys, push them, and go hard until it’s time to leave.”
And after the school year is over, Baletic hopes he may get
the chance to continue playing basketball in his native Serbia – his family
moved to Ottawa in 1995 – before going back to school to study medicine.
“I hope to travel and maybe play a little bit of basketball
while my application is going through, and then it’s time to be a doctor,”
explains Baletic, who’s carried the same career dream for a long time. “I love
the concept. To me, it’s the ultimate pinnacle – helping people.”
Baletic envisions having his own sports medicine clinic one
day, where he hopes to incorporate a “holistic spin” to healing by working on
focus and relaxation on top of contemporary rehabilitation.
“You have to take care of the body, but it’s just as
important to take care of the mind, which many people neglect,” the
six-foot-seven-inch tall forward says. “I want to help athletes get better
physically, and mentally – the whole package to reach their highest potential.”
Looking forward to the future is also a bit of a theme for
the Gee-Gees men’s basketball team. Baletic is one of the few veterans on the
6-9 squad that isn’t considered as big a threat for a nationals berth as in
“I love this place, this team and this university have given
me so much,” adds Baletic, who’s taken on a leadership role on the court and
behind the scenes. “It’s kind of like we had our time, and now it’s about
giving back, pushing the young guys and making sure they get their shot.”
The former Ottawa Guardsmen club player spends plenty of
time volunteering as well, working with the Ottawa Hospital and Roger’s House
as part of his master’s internship.
But basketball is still in the forefront of Baletic’s mind
every day, and he’s far from ready to throw in the towel on this season,
especially after his team’s performance against the Ravens when they jumped out
to a 23-9 lead after the first quarter.
“It’s not a surprise that when we have our full focus, we
can play with anybody, even the No. 1 team in the country,” says the
24-year-old who holds a black belt in karate and also enjoys volleyball, soccer
and skiing. “If we clinch a playoff spot, it doesn’t matter what anybody’s
record is. It’s just a matter of how focused you are and it’s anybody’s game.”
St. Pat’s grad shines in women’s Classic
St. Patrick’s High School grad Alyson Bush played a
front-and-centre role in the Carleton women’s team’s thrilling 71-63
double-overtime victory over the Gee-Gees in the supposed “undercard” of the
Capital Hoops Classic.
“We were trying to make it exciting for the fans,” laughs
Bush, who made a number of clutch plays in the decisive stages of the contest,
including the pair of free-throws that tied the game at 50 with about a minute
left in the fourth quarter to force the first overtime.
“It’s always nice to win, but it’s even nicer to beat Ottawa
U,” Bush adds. “And this is a really great place to play with the fans, so it’s
A first-team Ontario University Athletics east division all-star
last season, Bush is a key leader for the first-place 13-2 Ravens, who are
gunning for nothing short of a national title after being upset by the Gee-Gees
in the playoffs the past two years.
“I definitely think that was in the back of our minds this game,”
notes the third-year guard who is averaging 8.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.1
assists per game. “They did beat us in the finals, which was very upsetting. We
always have a little chip on our shoulders and we’ll always remember that
feeling, and we never want to have that feeling ever again.”