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Hoops dedication paying off

Basketball lover's long journey lands him at Games

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Swan RIVER -- Planes, trains and automobiles.

If you're thinking this story is going to be about the 1980s John Hughes film staring the likes of Steve Martin and John Candy, think again.

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Instead, the plot surrounds 16-year-old Codi Broney and his unique basketball journey in the 2012 edition of the Manitoba Summer Games being played in the Swan Valley area this week.

Here's the deal: Broney lives in Churchill and plays for Team Norman. The regional team is made up of mainly players from The Pas and Flin Flon and that's where the team has hosted their weekend practices, a total of five since April.

OK, so no planes are involved but Broney's travel routine includes a 16-hour train ride to Thompson followed by a six-hour drive to either The Pas or Flin Flon.

Crazy, right? So why does he do it?

"I want to represent Team Manitoba in the upcoming provincial tournament," said Broney, who picked up the game from his Grandpa at the age of five.

"It's what I'm hoping will happen by being here but we'll see what happens."

And like every great story, there exists a twist of irony. Broney first found out about the team after getting released from the under-17 provincial tryout camp earlier this year.

"I ended up getting cut on the first day but one of the coaches told me about the regional teams and how they pick players to play on the 16-under team from the (Norman) region," said Broney.

"So I took it as an opportunity to maybe play for Team Manitoba one day if they see I have potential in a tournament like this."

That's quite the dedication for someone who's recently been released by the same club just a short time before. But it's the kind of strong character present within the teenager and it comes as no surprise for anyone who knows him.

"The kid's got a lot of heart," said Frank Power, head coach of Team Norman. "He's a great kid with a great attitude and I know how much it means to him to come all the way down from Churchill and I'm glad he's getting the exposure."

For Power, the fact the kid has some game doesn't hurt either.

"The kid can shoot. He really surprised me because when we saw a kid from Churchill coming down to the tryouts I didn't know what to expect and then he came and shot the lights out," said Power. "I think the sky is the limit to what he could do."

Making up the Broney cheering section this week is his mother, stepdad and girlfriend.

"So proud, just proud," said his mother, Michlynn Gulick, about what it feels like to watch him compete this week. "It just makes me very, very proud of him."

Broney will have the next few days to show off his skills on the court but for now, he's quick to share the praise of those off the court.

"The people and athletes are a lot of fun. The volunteers are doing a great job, too. So far it's been really good and I look forward to the next couple days."

Team Norman opened their Games schedule Thursday with a rough 92-26 loss to Team Winnipeg Gold.

jeff.hamilton@freepress.mb.ca twitter: @jeffkhamilton

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 20, 2012 C6

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