Monday, 18 January 2016

Still Positively Influencing Students- the Surrey RCMP Tournament 25 years later

High-school sports have always been a topic of contention and will continue to be so for many years to come.  With all the negativity that has surrounded sport over the last few years, we tend to forget the positive experiences that organized or intramural school sports can give our students.  This weekend I had the opportunity to be a volunteer for the 25th Anniversary Surrey RCMP Basketball Tournament.  This year was different than any other, as it would feature the inaugural Surrey RCMP Alumni Tournament which allowed each school the opportunity to register a team to play in the tradition as they did so many years ago.  What looked like an opportunity for former players to relive the glory days turned out to be a moment of nostalgia and reflection for everyone who was a part of it.  Here are my 5 big take-aways from my experience this weekend:  

1.   Relationships:  We as educators continue to come to the realization that relationships are the most important aspect in learning.  We know that having good relationships with our students allow them to feel comfortable enough take chances and make mistakes and with Athletics it is no different.  This tournament was created by a relationship between the RCMP and Surrey School District 25 years ago.  When Rick Inring (SD36 Adminstrator) and Norm Massie (RCMP Corporal) devised the concept of this tournament, their intention “was to foster inter-school competition and create a healthy relationship between the RCMP and students of Surrey/White Rock"[1].   Twenty-five years later the "Classic" is one of the most prominent Basketball tournaments in BC and continues to have a positive impact on Surrey students.  

    The added Alumni tournament created a lot of excitement as former players were excited to wear the school colors and represent their high-school years after graduation. As players walked into the gym to get ready for their games, it was evident that something truly nostalgic was taking place.  Players from different era's and schools greeted each other with smiles, hugs, handshakes and high-fives.  Some players had not seen each other since graduation, others were shocked seeing old high school teachers now veteran administrators stopping in to watch some of the action.  What was even more humbling to watch- was to see that many of the players were introducing their families to old time friends and watching these families cheer and interact from the sidelines.  Games were watched not just by girlfriends, wives, children, friends, but also by parents who may have not seen their children play sports since high-school.  With all of the issues that Surrey faces and the amount of negative attention the city receives-it was interesting to note that everyone knew this was something special.  

2.   Commitment: The commitment by the RCMP and the Surrey School District Organizers (Norm Massie, Rick Inrig and Kevin De Boice) is inspiriting to say the least.  They continue to push for the tradition to get bigger and better each year.  This tournament truly is a Surrey Championship in sorts and all players get excited just to be apart of the tradition.  I would also like to point out that the commitment from the players to their schools was also heartening to watch.  Frank Hurt may have been the oldest team in age, but the youngest at heart.  Watching Guildford Park, Queen Elizabeth and North Surrey play with members who may have played in the first tournament was really moving.  All these players (even some who came as far as Toronto- Alumni MVP (Fleetwood Park) - Greg Jackson) flew in to wear their school colors for maybe one last time.  School pride and commitment-- this culture is created and embedded in all the schools in Surrey, something that we in #sd36learn should be proud of. 

3.  Volunteerism:  So many coaches came back to help referee and volunteer their time for their former players.  The amount of hours that coaches give each year is truly inspiring.  How has volunteerism shaped the minds of the young basketball players who watched their coaches give up time to support our community?  When asked to the players at the alumni banquet- How many of you volunteer coach in your communities now? Every hand at every table was raised!!! Surrey teachers and volunteer coaches have created lasting positive impacts on their players and these relationships continue to transcend time. It is amazing to see former players give back to their community with their time while sharing something they are passionate about..

4.   Active for Life- the Long Term Athletic Development Model describe this section as "athletes and participants enjoy(ing) lifelong participation in a variety of competitive and recreational opportunities in sport and physical activity”[2].  Many of players in this tournament continue to play and love the sport they played in high-school.  There has been a rise in the participation of club basketball over the years, but historically and uniquely enough, basketball was one of the only sports that was not a community sport (meaning- there was no outside community league).  So a lot of the players developed a love for basketball and lifelong sport in Surrey School gyms and playgrounds. 

5.   Sport as a Savior:  We all have had individuals in our lives that have stepped up or influenced in a positive way and basketball in Surrey has done that for many of the athletes that continue to participate in the RCMP Basketball Tournament.  Through-out the weekend I overheard countless of stories of players who were on the verge of not graduating and felt disenfranchised with their schooling but that love, commitment and relationships through athletics all led them back down the right path.  Many of our students past and present could end up down the wrong path, but many won’t because the love of sport, comradery and a sense of belonging that is created through organized sports and tournaments such as the Surrey RCMP Tournament tradition keeps them connected.  The Surrey RCMP Tournament has and will continue have a lasting impact on our student/athletes as they venture into adulthood and their life goals.  

   To the organizers, thanks for a wonderful weekend down memory lane,

   Kenneth Headley (Former SD36 Learn Student,  Surrey RCMP Tournament Alumnus, SD36         
   District Teacher, SD36 Coach and SD36 parent)

[1] RCMP Basketball Tournament Website- (About Section).

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