BURNABY — Maybe it’s not the basketball event of the high school year.
Yet when the home team takes on Surrey’s Frank Hurt Hornets at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in the opening round of the Grade 8 boys Rebels Classic at Burnaby South Secondary, one of the most ambitious single-school undertakings in B.C. high school sports history will have gotten underway.
That 16-team tournament, which runs Wednesday through Friday, is the first of eight invitationals the school will host this season, all not only falling under the ‘Rebels Classic Series’ moniker, but all coming on consecutive weekends from now through the final weekend of January.
Yes, you’ve got that right. Burnaby South is hosting an invitational basketball tournament for each of its school’s eight Rebels basketball teams for what basically amounts to next eight full weeks, not including the holiday break.
“Last spring, heading towards summer, we were looking at all of our teams,” said Burnaby South athletic director Robbie Puni. “We were going to have eight of them, and just knowing how much the kids all love playing in front of their home crowd, we just figured we would go for it and spread the wealth evenly to all of our teams.”
Thus after this weekend’s Grade 8 boys event, the schedule does a fast break to Christmas and resumes the first full week back to school in the new year.
It looks like this: Dec. 5-7 (Grade 9 boys, 12 teams); Dec. 12-14 (Grade 9 girls, eight teams), Dec. 19-21 (Rod Thompson Memorial senior and junior boys, 18 teams); Jan. 9-11 (Grade 8 girls, 12 teams); Jan. 16-18 (senior girls, eight teams), Jan. 23-25 (junior girls, 12 teams).
That’s an amazing 86 teams, and the total will be pushed past 100 when the school take a few weeks off to recover, then plays host to the 2018-19 B.C. Grade 9 boys basketball championship tournament.
And while it’s fun to gloss over the numbers, what’s most notable about the Rebels Classic Series is the statement it makes, in these manpower-challenged times, that the village which is Burnaby South can rally the needed resources to put on eight straight weeks of invitational basketball tournaments, then play host a provincial tournament.
Puni gives huge kudos to the school’s own Rebels Athletic Council (RAC) for their tireless efforts.
“They are the heart and soul of the whole program,” he says of the student-powered group which not only insures sporting events run smoothly, but gives platform to the school’s teams through consistent social media exposure.
“And we’re at a point right now where we have so many community coaches and staff returning to coach because they see where we are, and they want to be a part of something,” Puni adds.
“It’s no different from anything else. If they see value in it, they want to be a part of it.”
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