He said it jokingly, but Lucky Toor wasn’t lying when he said he crossed a river to be here.
Here, of course, is Burnaby Mountain Secondary School, where Day 1 of Junior Girls action has begun in The Big Ticket Tournament; and “there” is Delta – more specifically Seaquam Secondary school – where head coach Lucky Toor and his Seaquam Seahawks squad came from to start their season.
“We crossed rivers, drove across bridges, to be here today,” said Coach Toor.
“There’s lots of nerves right now, with kids playing their first game of the season and what not. We’re known as a volleyball school, so a lot of these girls are coming of volleyball provincials, so now their participation kicks into full gear,” added Toor about his squad.
“I would say athleticism should be one of our strengths,” said Coach Toor, assessing his team before their first game of the season. “We do have some strong multi sport athletes on our team so I’d expect us to be able to run a little bit.”
On both teams, basketball is the focus for today but not the only sport for many of the players; the young girls also play volleyball, softball and ultimate frisbee in addition to basketball.
“It’s up to the child,” said Bernie Lam, mother of Danielle Lam on the Burnaby Mountain Lions, when it comes to specializing in a sport early. “If they are really gung-ho and playing and want to excel, they will see if they can join and get into club play and, you know, hone their skills.”
The capacity to decide whether or not they want to do something full time or not speaks to the maturity young athletes display extremely early in their careers.
Bernie credits the role that sports in general play in that development. “It works on their organisational skills, their teamwork, working as a group and learning as a group,” she said.
“I find that overall they are better students; they learn to communicate better and in general they’re more … whole.”
If you hang around at the court long enough, you’ll quickly remember that sports is about more than a sisterhood or brotherhood, it’s about family.
“I love watching them play,” exclaims Bernie. “I mean, these girls have pretty much been together since grade 8. We travel together, I’m usually chauffeuring when we go to different games,” she points out. “I try to make myself free so that they are able to make the games and I enjoy watching.”
Bernie Lam was watching from the just outside the gym, as she helped with selling tickets at the tournament. Every opportunity she had, she would look inside the gym to watch her girls play. But, tonight wasn’t the best of nights.
Seaquam head coach Toor’s assessment of his team was right: they can run, more than a little bit. The Seahawks would beat the Lions 62-30.
But despite the score, Day 1 at The Big Ticket ends right where it began: with Bernie and her basketball family heading home and Coach Toor and his basketball family, crossing rivers, to go back home.
Written by: Mohak Sood