The Alberni Armada and Vancouver College Fighting Irish will be among the schools competing at the first annual Duke's Cup duals this Saturday at the Beatty Street Drill Hall. (Photo by Wilson Wong 2018 / All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Wrestling

B.C. High School Wrestling: Saturday’s inaugural Duke’s Cup at historic Beatty Street Drill Hall ushers in a new partnerships, bright new era

VANCOUVER — Just read the first few words of the invitation, and you know that B.C. high school wrestling is starting to think outside the box in terms of promoting the skills and accomplishments of its most dedicated student-athletes:

The Commanding Officer and Officers of The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own) in Partnership with the ONNI Group and the B.C. Secondary School Wrestling Association Request the Pleasure of Your Company at the Annual “Duke’s Cup” Wrestling Dual Meet to be held at The Drill Hall on Saturday, January 12th, 2019.

That’s right.

In what BCSSWA president Mike Roselli says is the start of a beautiful partnership between his association and the British Columbia Regiment, a high school wrestling meet will take place downtown at the historic Beatty Street Drill Hall (620 Beatty), the home of the B.C. Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own) and a branch of the Canadian Armed Forces, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Roselli, who doubles as the head coach of the Vancouver College Fighting Irish grappling program, and has had a wide-and-varied history in the sport himself, said the idea has been about eight months in the planning.

“The army is supplying the venue so soldiers are being dispatched with army trucks to transport the wrestling mats there and back,” says Roselli who has worked with lieutenant colonels Paul Lyndsay and Bruce Kadanoff to begin a partnership with true long-range goals for high school wrestling in this province.

“As well, The Onni Development Group have come on board as a main sponsor of high school wrestling,” Roselli continues of the Vancouver-based real estate development group, “and they have donated funding for t-shirts and a social in the officers’ mess after the competition.”

Saturday’s meet will feature schools from Vancouver, the North Shore, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island.

Among the top talents expected to take part are returning provincial silver medalists from Alberni District in Seth Price and Owen Spencer.

Vancouver College’s Heath Yee Fung and Damien Clarke, New Westminster’s Daniel Dordevic and Andrew Park of Argyle in North Vancouver are among the other top boys expected to compete.

On the girls side, noted standouts include Gabriella Bellini of Burnaby’s St. Thomas More, and Bridgette Kent of Handsworth in North Vancouver.

B.C. Secondary Schools Wrestling Association president Mike Roselli (left) is happy to have support from Harjit Singh Sajjan (centre), the National Minister of Defence, and Colonel Bruce Kadanoff for Saturday’s debut Duke’s Cup dual meets in downtown Vancouver. (Photo courtesy Mike Roselli)

Roselli is also happy to report that the B.C. Secondary School Wrestling Association has signed on for three years, beginning this season, to hold its provincial championships at the Langley Events Centre.

And there is a Canadian Armed Forces tie-in there as well.

“The army is supplying an honour guard and military band for the B.C.’s, so they are going to be parking a tank outside of the Langley Events Centre,” Roselli says of the 2019 provincials which begin a three-day run Feb. 17.

And through its partnership, Roselli sees not only the opportunity to continue to invite different schools from around the province each season to the Duke’s Cup, but to also potentially start a series of meets at different locations around B.C.

“The Duke’s Cup is the first of a few meets we would like to hold on military bases throughout the province,” Roselli says. “We would like to identify a base in each of the zones around the province. So instead of running a wrestling tournament at a school, we would do it at a base. That way we get a hand with our own overhead and we’re able to keep our partnership with the military strong.”

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