Gil Cheung's awesome shot wins tuition for student

Gil Cheung - submitted
Gil Cheung
— image credit: submitted

During his playing days, Brandon University basketball coach Gil Cheung was a pretty fair long-range shooter.

But his most recent accomplishment earned him a feature on CNN, the Cable News Network.

In 1996 the former Richmond Colt earned Basketball BC's junior boys' three-point championship.

But even that honour seems pale in comparison to his latest feat—a shot from centre court to win tuition for a student at Brandon University in Brandon, Manitoba.

"I made a few of those back when I was playing at Richmond High and Brandon University, but none in a game situation I don't think," the now Brandon University men's hoops coach said of his basket last Friday, during the Bobcats' final weekend of regular-season play. "The ones I made were usually just me and the guys horsing around after practice."

As a result of 'the shot', Cheung and physical education student Mason Kaluzniak, who was selected to compete in the shoot-for-tuition contest but instead asked Cheung—his former instructor—to take the shot on his behalf, have become instant celebrities. More than a million people have watched the shot on YouTube and media outlets around North America have picked up on the story.

"(Friday) was the last time this season for someone to win their tuition," said Cheung, who as a player captained the Bobcats to two national championship finals and is a former All-Canadian. "Being the last time, the student was allowed to pick anyone in the building to shoot the shot for them. I was more focused on the second half versus the University of Regina. I jokingly said 'you better pick me' and took off my jacket, lined up the seams and it felt real good. I knew it was in about half way there and started running the other way. No preparation. Really I was just hoping the contest would get done quickly so our guys could get back to the game. It's not a free throw or even a three, a shot that you would anticipate making. You just want to get it close and not make a fool of yourself."

Cheung, who graduated from Brandon University with a bachelor of general studies in 2002 and a bachelor of education two years later, was particularly happy his sinking the shot will cover the cost of tuition for Kulzniak for a year. According to Brandon University's graduate fee table for 2011-12, the tuition fee for a full course load (15 credits) is $2,310.15.

"It's not easy financially being a university student these days and to be able to pay for a student's tuition meant a lot to me," he said. "The incredible coverage that has come with it being on ESPN, PTI, CNN, and USA Today has given great exposure to our community, university and our men's basketball program. Really a win-win situation for everyone."

Cheung, who has seven years of teaching experience in both the public and private school systems, has taught physical education from Kindergarten through senior high school. He currently teaches a variety of activity courses in the physical education department from outdoor education to fitness and conditioning.

"I love my job and am extremely grateful to be able to coach for a living—not only coach, but to coach at my Alma Mater means that much more," said Cheung. "We did not have a great season this year and a lot (of that) had to do with injuries. Our top three scorers and top two rebounders missed the entire year with torn ACLs, another broke his clavicle, and another dislocated and fractured his ankle. Just one of those years. But everyone is eligible to return and it is all part of the process in building a strong program. We are in the midst of signing a few players for next season, and along with the athletes we have returning, we are very excited for next season."


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