Updated: Jan 24, 2018
The hallways are louder than usual. The classrooms are empty. Kids fill the gymnasium and cheer with smiles from ear to ear.
The ambiance is indescribable.
Amongst the hype of the BC Catholic Basketball Tournament, Holy Cross—the host school—prepares for a whirlwind of a weekend that showcases the best of BC’s Catholic schools.
“I’m most looking forward to playing Vancouver College,” says Jamal Osei-Anim, one of three Grade 12s on the Holy Cross Team. “We’re both catholic schools and we always go at it each year in the BC Catholics, so it’s just been a rivalry that has always been there for years.”
For the past three years, the Holy Cross Crusaders have battled against Vancouver College in the finals.
Osei-Anim is a guard for the senior boys basketball team and has been hoopin’ since the eighth grade. He joined the Crusaders in Grade 10. Basketball goes much further than the court for Osei-Anim. Most of his teammates are like family to him.
“We’ve all been friends for a really long time, so it’s easy playing on a team full of your best friends.”
Being one of three Grade 12s on the team, Osei-Anim is a natural leader and embraces being a mentor to the younger players who share the same jersey.
“I love to mentor these guys. Especially having a younger brother on the team, it’s always great to lead them in the right direction,” Osei-Anim says in regard to playing with his brother, Tee.
Coach Matt LeChasseur admires his Grade 12s and admits that his team leans heavily on them to help guide the Crusaders.
“We rely a lot on our three grade 12s. The rest of the team is really young and we’ve been stressing every day that we step on the floor that we want to get better.”
Coach LeChasseur has a unique tie to this tournament: aside from graduating from Holy Cross, the BC Catholics are what we see today thanks to Matt’s father, Burt LeChasseur.
“This is the 30th year [of the BC Catholics Tournament]. A big year! We’re really proud of the tournament; it’s one of the best basketball atmospheres you’ll find in the province. It’s just an amazing place to be for basketball. Every aspect of the tournament we have student involvement and it makes it really special for the kids.”
Osei-Anim agrees with his coach and looks forward to the engaging event that brings together not just basketball fans, but also the entire catholic community.
“It’s a pretty packed crowd and it’s really fun because it’s in our home gym, I’m looking forward to the amount of people that are going to be coming out and just having fun,” he says.
Aside from the healthy competition and school rivalries, Coach LeChasseur enjoys watching his team move onto bigger and brighter things, like applying their basketball skills at a university level and in all aspects of their lives.
“Some of my players now are getting married and having kids now,” says LeChasseur. “So it’s really rewarding to see the fruits of what we’ve been preaching and teaching for the time they’re here, so many life skills to learn and they’re starting to apply.”
As a senior Crusader, guard Osei-Anim recognizes the impact this team has had on his own life, and regardless of the outcome during the BC Catholics, he’s confident that Holy Cross will continue to battle for the rest of the season.
“Our main goal is to get through our conference and get to provincials; that’s what we’ve been grinding hard to do.”
And his coach agrees.
“I know the kids put a lot of emphasis on the catholic tournament, but ultimately it is an exhibition tournament and our goal is the provincial championships and our Fraser Valley championships.”
The BC Catholic Tournament will surely keep fans screaming and jumping on the bleachers, as the teams are fighting harder than ever to take home the gold. Aside from the game, though, this tournament does hold a special place in both Coach LeChasseur and Jamal Osei-Anim’s heart.
“Getting a chance to play in front of your school is always awesome. And playing at home just makes it a really special and memorable moment for the kids, for sure,” says LeChasseur.
“The experience with the team so far has been really great. I love the coaches. I love the team. Everything’s honestly been good,” says Osei-Anim.
“And we’re only going to get better from here.”
Don’t miss the final day of the BC Catholics Tournament happening on Saturday, January 20th at Holy Cross Secondary School. Be sure to cheer on Coach LeChasseur and his senior boys as they take on Vancouver College, yet again, in the championship game at 8:30pm.
Written by: Crystal Scuor