The time: Winter 1980-81
The Place: Burin Peninsula
The Event: Regional C Varsity Basketball tournament.
In the fall of 1980, in grade 10, I tried out for the varsity basketball team. I really had no expectation I’d ever be selected, I’m not overly athletic or coordinated, but I was, for the time, tall. I was in reasonably decent fitness I guess, as were most of us at the time, because we were always running, or walking, or outside, as it was really all we had to do.
I did have reasonably good reflexes, and have been told I played decently as a street hockey goalie, but I, by no means, thought of myself as having much athletic ability. I mainly tried out to show I was interested, and for “something to do”.
Imagine my surprise, and I’m sure most of the school’s, when I made it. I have no idea yet how it happened. Only Rid Nichol can answer that, if he even knows now, 30 years later.
In any event, I warmed the benches in many local games at our school, hosting others from around the area, Musgravetown, Clarenville, and I’m not sure which others, and travelled to a few as well.
I was lucky enough to play with some very talented players though, Kevin Martin, Rick Verge, Chris Laite, Charles March, Brian Wilcox, Derek Burt, Mario Vary, David Bowering, and Faron Turley.
Our tournaments were broken into 3 levels, if I remember correctly, the first remains unnamed in my mind unfortunately, maybe zone?, but was at the Clarenville High School. I really don’t recall much about it to be honest, but we did win the tournament.
The next step was to play in the regional tournament, which was held in the town of Burin. I have three main memories of that tournament.
One: The gym we played in had a lot of condensation, and the floor was damp a lot. The referee of one or more of our games, was a former teacher at our school, Jim Pittman, and we seemed to be getting called for an inordinate amount of travelling calls from slipping in the dampness.
Two: We were playing some team, and were up by a substantial amount, and I got to play for a bit. I remember keep missing my shots, and the team kept feeding me the ball to try again. I finally made a basket, and the whole team cheered, which felt really good for the guy who was mostly known as the school’s nerd.
Three: We won the tournament! And thats where the title comes in. I remember riding the bus back home, fairly late at night I believe, and all of us singing along loudly to this song when it came on the radio.
This also meant we moved on to play in the provincial championship, which was held in Grand Bank. I remember I was billeted with Chris Laite at some person’s home, and that, if memory serves, we missed out on the playoffs by total points scored, being 4 shy of making the “cross over”.
I’m sure a horrible disappointment at the time, but fondly remembered now.
At the end of that school year, our jerseys were “retired” – these used to be used year after year. And we got to keep them. I think mine finally gave up the ghost only a couple years ago, and shredded into dust.