Wednesday, 10 December 2014 09:49

After nearly 40 years, Vanguard no longer hooped

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After nearly 40 years, Vanguard no longer hooped Photo contributed

Vanguard School teacher Stephen McComish was born in 1978.

The year 1983 was the last time an organized, school-versus-school basketball game was played.
Fast forward to Dec. 3, 2014 and McComish led a boys’ basketball team comprised of 11 players from grades 6-9 to its first home hoops win in nearly 40 years — a 52-32 decision over Val Marie.
Granted it was an exhibition game as Vanguard is not part of the South West Athletic Conference. However, it was definitely an accomplishment for the school of 70 students.
McComish studied at Millar College of the Bible in nearby Pambrun and played some sports there including basketball. When he arrived in Vanguard he said basketball wasn’t even on the radar amongst the student body.
A young student moved to Vanguard and really pushed hard to get a basketball team started. McComish, having played basketball under Kevin Peters at Millar College of the Bible, thought it was a good idea and pushed for it in the school.
It was a strange thing though as basketball amongst the grade 6-9 students wasn’t the coolest activity.
“It was almost a stigma to play basketball,” recalled McComish who says little convincing changed their minds. “But at least I got them thinking, might as well play some basketball too. We’ve got a lot of athletic kids.”
Because basketball had skipped a generation or two, the game had to virtually be taught from scratch.
By scoring 52 points in their first game, it appears as though it was mission accomplished.
“That was a big challenge for me, just focusing on the rules and strategies,” explained McComish who has 11 players on his team. “In school, we would just work on the dribbling and shooting. (We) spent a little time on the rules, but not much. Now you’re trying to ... (understand) the team concept.
“We have lunchtime practices as we try to work around hockey and band.”
He added it was strange to watch an organized game on the court, especially considering the time frame and his own age.
Now that it happened and even leading up to the game, the coach said he was happy there was “kind of a buzz” around the school.
When the game was played, both teachers and a fair number of parents took in the action.
McComish admits to trying to get a basketball program going last year, but it didn’t pan out. However, new year, new attitude and all the hard work and preparation came to fruition.
Turnabout is fair play as Vanguard will be on the road to Val Marie to finish the back end of the home and home. No matter what the score is, there are probably a lot of people happy to see Vanguard back in the game.
The coach will gauge the interest next year, but says he has a lot of good, young players coming up and with some luck, they may enter the league next season.

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Ryan Dahlman

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