Every year at Final 8 time, you can usually count on TSN replaying the footage of Eddie Pomykala, who's retiring at the end of this season after 24 years with the Bishop's Gaiters, giving a locker room speech before the 1998 national championship game.
That clip really was a window into the entire Bishop's community, which Pomykala will continue to serve by working in student recruitment. No would want to trivialize what a natioanl title means to a school the size of the U of Alberta, UBC or Laval, but when their traditionally strong teams go to a Final 8, a Vanier Cup or a nationals in volleyball or hockey, they're basically playing to add to their banner collection.
The Gaiters, at that moment 10 years ago, might have felt they were playing simply for the same thing. At the end of the day, it was just another basketball game, right? That said, the vibe I always got, as a small-town guy, is that Pomykala's Gaiters wanted to show the entire country what BU is all about, why people opt to spend four years in Lennoxville tucked way down in the Eastern Townships, when they could just as easily stay close to home or in a major urban centre. People who attend Bishop's tend to be, relatively speaking, very proud to have had the experience, and that clip always helps explain why. As we get farther and farther from it, that Bishop's national championship stands out more and more.
It's funny... ask 10 people who are somewhat acquainted with Canadian university sports to name the smallest school to ever win a national championship in basketball and chances are at least half of them would answer, "Brandon." Sorry, wrong BU.