Like an eclipse, it has been rare that SAMS has been able to host more than a small local team tournament perhaps with competition from places like Anahim Lake, Tatla Lake and Acwsalcta. Finally, this February SAMS will get to host the Northern Zone Basketball Tournament.
It’s a massive undertaking for the girls team, the coaches, the parents, and the school but one well worth the effort.
“For many years, we’ve traveled to places like Dawson Creek, Fort Nelson and Prince George. It’ll give other teams like those from Prince George, a better idea of what it’s like for us to travel to other centres to play,” commented manager and assistant coach Abra Silver.
Although, the Girls team is still fundraising to cover the costs of hosting the tournament they have a greater feeling of accomplishment knowing that in the end they get to have the home court advantage.
The playing field is not always even and it goes unrecognized by schools in the larger centers that if they want to play another school they hop on a school bus for what is usually only a few minutes ride down the road. For schools in rural locations such as SAMS, the fundraising is more often a greater focus than the actual preparations for the games themselves. A trip to Prince George for the zones is typically between $5000-$6000 when you factor in accommodations, fuel for the bus, and food.
“We’ve been grateful in recent years for the cooperation of Acwsalcta teachers/coaches Geoff and Lindsey Gericke,” Abra comments. “The past few year’s girls’ teams from both Acwsalcta and SAMS have together to tournaments in places like Burns Lake, while the Boys’ teams from both schools have traveled together to zone tournaments in places such as Prince George. When you have that kind of cooperation it makes things a little easier.”
The tournament will be the weekend of February 21/22 with the school hosting ten teams from all over the Northern Zone (Prince George, Vanderhoof, Ft. St. James, Valemount, etc.). The tournament is more than just basketball with a traditional banquet held the Friday night during the tournament.
The banquet is tentatively slated to take place in Lobelco Hall. The banquet is a highlight for the girls as they get to spend time together as fellow basketball players instead of just competitors. It’s a tradition that each team puts together a short performance at the banquet. A committee at the school is in the process of organizing the overall tournament and the logistics that go with it.
Thankfully, a great many of the larger issues such as scheduling are handled by the zone executive. However, the committee will be reaching out to the greater community for assistance with running the tournament. “There are a great many details such as accommodations for out-of-town referees and helping teams find places to stay that need to be worked out,” states Abra. “But no doubt with the cooperation of the community, it’ll be an excellent showcase of what a small town can do.” SAMS hopes to build upon the success of this tournament into hosting the Boys Zone tournament in the not too distant future.