I met Jack Armstrong once while attending sports broadcasting school in Toronto a couple years ago and I’ll never forget a story he told to my class. Of course, Jack had built a career as a basketball coach, and then found his way onto the other side of the lens as a sportscaster.
Most know him for his booming Brooklyn accent and cheeky phrases like “Helloooo!” or “Get that garbage outta here!” Both of which he gave our class the pleasure of hearing in person the day he visited the college.
Jack said something that left an even more iconic imprint on my life that day, though.
“I owe everything I have in my life to that beautiful orange ball,” he gushed, tears welling in the corner of his eyes.
Wow, I remember thinking, basketball is so much more than just a sport.
Since that moment with Jack, life has been a bit of a roller coaster for so many of us. Not long after his inspirational school visit, a worldwide pandemic pressed the pause button on our lives. Sports went into hibernation, families were torn apart, and a lot of incredibly hard working people lost their jobs and were forced into isolation.
So often, I thought we’d never get back to whatever “normal” used to be.
Back before the pandemic and even before the big move to Toronto, my boyfriend at the time (who has now become my fiancé) was the reason I truly started following basketball. He played at a professional level, first at Simon Fraser University and then overseas at the University of Edinburgh.
When we started dating, I landed a job as a writer for BC Sports Hub and lucky for both of us, I convinced my new boss to hire Chris as a videographer, too.
It was then we became the Dream Team.
Working alongside him while adding to my skills as a sports journalist was literally something only dreams were made of. I developed a unique love for basketball and was honoured to learn from my little professional athlete about the sport that brought him so much happiness, as well.
Throughout our time with BC Sports Hub, we shared important narratives together that focused on basketball, yet also went far beyond the box score. Some of the most meaningful stories I’ve ever told were thanks to the beautiful people we met while working at The Hub.
And so, leaving the BC basketball community and heading out to Toronto for new opportunities was very difficult. It was extremely hard to say goodbye. But Chris and I were meant to shine in a new province for a little while. We worked with professional teams and even interviewed star athletes in the National Football League.
That is until COVID had different plans for us.
We lost our jobs. My school shut down. So, we moved back home last year and life hasn’t been quite the same ever since. We’ve all fought our own battles. However, even through some of the darkest days, I’ve realized that sports have always been the great connector.
As I type this, I’m sitting in the Langley Events Centre covering Bball Nationals for the second time in my career. Chris and I are newly engaged and have an even bigger adventure on the horizon when we move to Italy at the beginning of October. So to be here right now, I feel pretty nostalgic. And even more so grateful, because finally, we’re back in the gym and covering a sport that brought us together nearly four years ago.
I owe so much of my life to that beautiful orange ball.
While things haven’t completely returned to normal, the underlying lesson I’m going to take with me after this tournament is that we are truly lucky to play, watch, and work in sports. So many of us have connected on a deeper level thanks to the passion behind that orange ball.
I see kids of every age coming together and playing as a family again. I see smiles. And I feel the love that basketball has brought back into the lives of each team lacing up. Teams such as Rock Elite from St. John’s, the Lava Mermaids from Alberta, or even the Chilliwack Basketball Club, who are competing in a girls/boys tournament for the first time ever!
Basketball has given us a home. And I hope you all feel as blessed as I do whenever you look at that beautiful orange ball, too.
Cheers to Bball Nationals 2021!
PS—if you have a story that goes beyond the basketball court & you’d like to share it with everyone at Bball Nationals, please reach out. I’d love to interview you!
Written by: Crystal Scuor