Playing basketball on a professional level was not always on Matt Robertson’s list of dream jobs. Now, the St. Thomas alumni has been playing for the Moncton Miracles of the National Basketball League for the past two years.
“When I was younger, my parents would ask what I wanted to be when I grew up. I would always say a professional baseball player, as I played baseball when I was 14. I never thought I would make it this far with basketball.”
Robertson started playing basketball when he was in Grade 7 at Evergreen Park School, and played throughout high school at Bernice MacNaughton, including a year with Basketball New Brunswick under-16 team.
By the time Robertson got to Grade 12, he knew he wanted to be a journalist. He applied to Carleton University in Ottawa and Kings College in Halifax, but did not apply to St. Thomas.
“I didn’t really like how it was a bachelor of arts with a major in journalism. I knew I wanted to be a journalist, so I applied to those two schools with a bachelor in journalism degree,” Robertson said.
While at a playoff tournament in March of his Grade 12 year, at Fredericton High School, Robertson saw St. Thomas men’s basketball coach Dwight Dickinson talking to one of his coaches from BMHS, Steve Chapman. Not thinking anything of it, Robertson continued to play. After playing a really close game with Fredericton, Dickinson went up to Robertson.
“Listen, I hear you want to go into journalism. I would love to have you play on my basketball team, take journalism at St. Thomas. I think it’s a really good fit, how do you feel about that?” coach Dickinson asked. That sounded great with me and we went from there,” Robertson said.
Oddly enough, Dickinson had cut Robertson twice from a couple of summer teams Robertson had tried out for.
After playing for St. Thomas and coach Dickinson from 2006 to 2010, Robertson had a tough decision to make: Acadia or Crandall. Since Acadia’s education programme was not as reputable as Crandall’s, choosing to go to Acadia would have been purely a basketball decision for Robertson.
“I decided to go to Crandall instead of going to Acadia because I said, ‘where is basketball going to take me in life?’ I kind of laugh at that now because I would have probably been better prepared to play for the Miracles had I gone to Acadia, who ended up going to the national championship that year. So I chose to go to Crandall for the year, where I ended up playing against St. Thomas. I never thought it would be possible for me to play professionally,” said Robertson.
The summer after graduating from Crandall, Robertson heard that Moncton was getting a team and that they were holding tryouts in Toronto. After ending up in Toronto, he tried out with 70 other guys.
“I played well that day, and that was when I said, ‘You know what? This thing is possible, let’s do this.’ It’s been amazing ever since,” Robertson said.
With his wedding day coming up in a few months, Robertson needs to make some decisions. As professional basketball in Canada doesn’t pay very much money, Robertson will need to figure out if it is economically feasible to keep going down the basketball route. Journalism for Robertson has been put on the side.
“I really want to write about sports for a living, but it is really tough to do. There are only a couple of sports guys in every newsroom. So for now it is put to the side and I am playing basketball as it is my full time job.”
Playing basketball has allowed Robertson to meet a lot of people. The coach for the Miracles last year was Mike Evans, a former NBA player for nine years and NBA coach for seven.
“Mike Evans has coached at the highest level possible. To be coached by someone of that pedigree is amazing. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some really unique and cool people. I’ve had six or seven roommates over the past two years. I am really thankful for the opportunities I have had and St. Thomas is a big part of that.”
Looking back, Robertson says it has been a long journey and he has had a lot of great people help him along the way.
If it were not for his high school coach, Steve Chapman, he would not be where he is today. If not for Jamie Small, his coach from summer team The Longshots, he would not be shooting three-pointers. But it was coach Dickinson from St.
Thomas that has allowed him to be able to have as good of a college career as he did with all the patience and hard work that Dickinson poured into him.
“All in all I am really thankful for all the opportunities that I have had and that things have just kind of worked out perfectly timing wise. Moncton was just getting a team as I was graduating so I was peeking in my basketball experience just as it became an available option for me. I am fortunate enough to have had great people around me great teammates all the way through.”
Robertson says his four years at St. Thomas were the greatest basketball years of his entire life.
“I’ve had so much fun with it, met some really cool people. Just four years with most of the same guys, I would never take that back. Some of the guys had a hard time when I went to Crandall to play just because I was playing against them. After the season I said you know what, I’ll be a Tommie for life and I’m really thankful for my time there.”