There must be something in the water at Argyle Secondary School.
Take a drive out to North Vancouver’s upper Lynn Valley and you’ll find what looks like a quiet high school from the outside looking in. Step into the large gymnasium though, and the constant roaring of basketballs pounding the court will drown out the silence.
Dribble. Bounce. Swish.
When it comes to Argyle Secondary, the school breeds greatness in the form of their girl’s basketball teams.
“We’re trying to create the same atmosphere for each team, even when it comes to plays and values on each team,” said Alex Vieweg, head coach of the Argyle Pipers junior team. “Anthony’s created such a great program here. We do combined practices all the time, so we get to coach not just my team, but other teams as well.”
She’s referring to Anthony Beyrouti, who has been coaching since his Grade 11 year in high school and is now in his 15th season at Argyle.
Beyrouti coaches the Grade 9 and senior teams, both of which are heading to provincials alongside the Junior girls, as well. Not one, but three teams are off to BC’s biggest tournament of the year.
“It’s crazy, I’ve never heard of another school having three teams going,” said Hope Pearmain, a guard on the Pipers’ junior team. “And I think it’s definitely given Argyle a name.”
A name that Coach says would not have been possible without the endless support from teacher sponsors and the school’s administration.
“We’ve had vice principals and principals come to our playoff games. We’ve had a whole bunch of teachers that came out to some of our North Shore Playoff games. Our teacher sponsors are second to none. And that goes along with our Athletic Director, Darren Rath. It’s Darren, it’s Sue, it’s Sean—it’s people like that who really make a huge impact on the program and they really let it be successful for sure,” said Coach Beyrouti.
However, sitting courtside, it’s easy to see that the coaches themselves are a big influence on the Pipers’ triumph this year, too. Just ask the girls.
“At first he was kind of hard to get along with, but he’s become one of my favourite coaches. He pushes me a lot. That’s probably why I didn’t like him in the beginning because I’d never been pushed before,” said Georgia Swant.
Swant, who has been hooping since Grade 6, also plays for Beyrouti on the VK Basketball team during the summer.
Fellow teammate and guard, Kayla Escat, also appreciates the way her coach pushes her to be better each and every day.
“He takes things really seriously, but it’s really good because we’ve had coaches in the past who maybe weren’t as serious, but Anthony knows what he’s doing. He’s professional; he’s been doing it for years. And he’s going to be doing it for years after our team,” Escat said of Beyrouti. “He’s amazing.”
Escat has played for Argyle since Grade 8 and thinks of this team as her family, including their beloved Coach. In fact, each of his senior girls—and even the junior girls—regards Beyrouti as a rock star when it comes to coaching.
“Anthony Beyrouti has probably been the most influential coach I’ve ever had,” said senior guard Chloe Walton. “I’ve learned so much playing on this team.”
Walton’s name may sound familiar: she sunk the buzzer beater ball against Carson Graham to win the Crehan Cup Lower Mainland Championships for the Argyle Pipers.
“Nothing has ever been so quiet in my life.”
Walton says she has never been happier to make a shot, not only for herself but also for her team.
“So many of the players had an unbelievable game. Kayla Escat had the game of her life. So I was just happy to finish it for us,” said Walton.
The girls share a unique bond with each other that goes further than the restraints of a basketball court.
“We do everything together. We’ll study together, we’ll practice together; we’ll work really hard together,” Walton said. “The culture’s just kind of all about support.”
At the beginning of the year, Argyle Pipers’ senior girls were in over their heads. They came dead last in their first tournament, followed by 15th in the next. With the help of the administration, the teacher sponsors, and Coach Beyrouti, the girls had a major rebound on the season.
“At the beginning of the year, we were losing a lot games,” said Beyrouti. “We really couldn’t find a win. We weren’t really competing very hard and it kind of took some time to get everybody to gel and work together. So we started doing some morning shooting to go along with practice…and then slowly we just started getting a little bit better. The last two weeks, the team has been playing really well. And they’re competing harder, which has been fun to watch.”
All three Pipers’ teams are set to play in the Provincials Championships happening on Wednesday, February 28th at the Langley Events Centre—a truly amazing accomplishment for any athletics program.
“Our chemistry is super, super good. I love all the girls on my team. I’m really good friends with them outside of the basketball team, as well. And so, they’re kind of what helps me get through practice each day—the two-hour practices that we have every day. So it’s really fun,” said Swant.
Escat agrees that the close-knit group definitely has led to the team’s success.
“It has been a journey,” she said. “Throughout the years, they’ve become my best friends and it’s awesome. We’ve been through so much together. It’s been crazy.”
The warmth these girls feel for their team, their coach, and this program is evident not just in the way they play, but in the constant smiles on their faces—smiles that don’t even fade through the tough two-hour practices or the relentless drills called out by Beyrouti. Even mid push-up, the girls gleam with pride to be an Argyle Piper.
“We have a bond that’s just so indescribable,” said Walton.
“We all love each other so much and support each other, so it’s really an awesome experience.”
It’s not some sort of magic water at Argyle Secondary School.
It’s Chloe Walton, Georgia Swant, Kayla Escat, Hope Pearmain, and every other Piper. It’s Coach Beyrouti and the supporting staff. And it’s the undeniable love these teams have for the game of basketball, and also each other.
Written by: Crystal Scuor