It is always exciting to welcome back uOttawa alumni as they revisit their old stomping grounds, and reminisce on some good times passed. And perhaps, it is even more special when you welcome back someone like Alex Trebek. While this fact may not find its way into Jeopardy’s Daily Double, but for those who did not know, Mr. Jeopardy himself is a former uOttawa graduate, as well as an esteemed Gee-Gee basketball alumnus member.
During his most recent visit to the University of Ottawa, Mr. Trebek attended the Gee-Gees men’s basketball team practice to mark his 50th anniversary playing for the garnet and grey during the 1960-1961 season. We were fortunate enough to catch up with Mr. Trebek at practice.
How did sports influence your experience as a student here at uOttawa?
“Well I played a lot of sports. Blew my knee playing intramural football, but it did not slow me down too much because I played basketball for the college team during my senior year, and that was a lot fun.”
As an alumnus, what motivates you to do these sorts of visits, and give back so much of your time?
“I think because those years were really important ones in my life; I do not have any bad memories. I’ll be recalling a lot of things that happened almost sixty years ago; it is quite emotional. The university has changed so much, I mean none of this was here. The place has gotten bigger and bigger. When I was here I think we were only about 3,000 students, and now there are 40,000. So this has really become Canada’s university; no longer is the only bilingual university, but it is certainly the most important bilingual university in the country.”
In being a former Gee-Gee, any thoughts on the storied basketball rivalry between Carleton and uOttawa?
“Well the year I played, we were not very good. I think we probably had a .500 season, but we beat Carleton. We didn’t make the playoffs, but we beat Carleton, and that was very important to us. And the rivalry was probably stronger in those days than it is today I think.”
Rumour is that you only played one year for the Gee-Gees, which means you still have four years of eligibility. Will you be requesting a try out this weekend?
“Yeah sure, I’ll be here. But I look at these guys and how fast [they] are, how talented [they] are, and how big [they] are. I don’t want to get in there with [them]. So I think I’m just going to watch,” (laughs).
Following practice, Mr. Trebek took a few moments to address the men’s basketball team to share some of his memories playing for the Gee-Gees, and also encouraged them to never give up no matter how difficult things may seem. He went on to wish them the best of luck and to make sure that when they play Carleton, to win; it is as simple as that, he said. The Gee-Gees also presented Mr. Trebek with his very own jersey with the number fifty to celebrate his 50th anniversary as a graduate, for which he was very grateful.
Make sure to catch the Gee-Gees men’s basketball team as they face off against some familiar faces, and take on the Gee-Gees alumni team. Bragging rights are on the line this Saturday, September 25, 2:00 p.m., at Montpetit Hall. Attendance is free.