A high school principal, born and raised in Cape Breton, is leading his high school basketball team from Saskatchewan to the Coal Bowl in New Waterford.

The Coal Bowl is an annual, week-long national high school basketball competition.

Larry Waterman, principal at Carpenter High School in Meadow Lake, Sask., said the school team does not play in a league, so it usually relies on tournaments in Saskatchewan and Alberta for competition.

Waterman said the Coal Bowl is a great opportunity to experience something special.

"We've been looking for a high quality national tournament for a couple of years and we heard through word of mouth and some correspondence about the Coal Bowl," said Waterman.

"We know it's a quality event with a real academic and cultural component. We had asked the athletic director of Nova Scotia to see if there were any openings and he put me in touch with the right people and we ended up getting into the event and we're really excited about it." 

Waterman said there are a lot of similarities between Meadow Lake and New Waterford.

He expects his players will learn a lot about the area's coal mining history and culture of Cape Breton during the week-long event.

Waterman graduated from Sydney Academy in 1981, one year before the Coal Bowl began.

Learning about Cape Breton

Jackie Poirier, co-chair of the tournament, said there's a lot more to the event than just basketball.

"Every team in the Coal Bowl has to either do a skit, or sing or do a stand up comedy," she said.

That variety show happens about halfway through the week long event.

The players are also expected to read about the history of coal mining in Cape Breton. There's even a quiz.

The accommodations are all in the school, players stay in classrooms converted into dorms, and eat in the cafeteria.

"We're looking forward to everything except for the test and doing the stuff on stage. I don't think anybody's really looking forward to that," said Connor Waterman, co-captain of the Meadow Lake team

The teen said he's enthusiastic about the trip to the Miner's Museum, the students' coffee house and the tournament banquet.

There will also be opportunities for peer teaching in which some of the players help children in the lower grades with subjects like math.

Poirier said the athletes will get another treat when they arrive for the Coal Bowl.

"They'll think they're movie stars when they arrive. All the kids will be asking for the teams' autographs and it's fun."

The Coal Bowl starts Feb. 3.